France Day 18: The Cemetery

A rest day.  Homemade crepes for breakfast at the house, laundry in the lavender fields, some pool time, long naps, grilling out for dinner. An after-dinner escapade to try to hike the half-hour ochre trail at Roussillon.  It was closed.  So we explored the adjacent cemetery there instead.

I'm glad we did.  We wouldn't have visited unless the trail was closed.  Hundreds of people walk right by it every day and never enter this gem just by the trail entrance.  There were graves that were more like mini-churches than anything else.  Each one looked as though it hadn't been opened in 30 years or more.  Each one had a door, and when you go inside, it looks like there's a shelf or mantle to light candles, and many had pictures of the dead or of Mary propped on the shelf or hanging on the wall.  Many were empty.  Some had dead or fake flowers in them, all dusty and neglected.  It was kind of sad and forgotten.  Most doors were locked, but some were ajar and you could walk in, some had locked gates but the occasional broken glass window.  But on the whole, the tombs where the bodies were buried were well-loved and kept, many with ceramic flowers, framed photos, and little flowerpots, some with live flowers, many with fake, but few dusty.  It's as though the priorities have changed for the cemetery; people no longer go there to pray, but to visit.  The purpose seems to have shifted from a place of thinking about the heavenly life of the deceased to thinking of their earthly life and remembering them for who they really were.  A celebration of the best of them, rather than a place to celebrate their eternal reward.   A feeling that you can visit with the dead by being near their bodies than by connecting with their souls.  Maybe the intention of the evident actions had a bit of both, because we're not really bodies.  We're souls walking around in them for awhile.  A very short while.

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