Friday, February 24, 2006

Remember: William Woodland

We cling to the enduring strength of stone to fight the fear of being forgotten.

So please take a moment to remember:
William Woodland
Son of William and Ruth Woodland
Born Sept. 4, 1853
Died Dec. 7, 1876
Aged 23 Y's 3m. & 3d.

Affliction sore short time he bore,
Physicians were in vain;
Till God at last did call him home,
And eased him of his pain.

January 26, 2006:
A shadow walks with me among the stones. Pointing again and again and again. Laughing. I'm angry for William. What William faced was real. I'm not scared of shadows.

But then, I realize. The shadow bleeds from me. Merciless disease, however weakened, is never gone, never beaten. I can't run from shadows.

What we face is real. I'm angry for us.

(St. Peter's United Church of Christ, West Pikeland Township, Chester County, Pennsylvania)


Shesawriter said...

Very dark and sad. :-(


Jess Riley said...

Wow...they say dead men tell no tales, but I disagree. They speak through us if only we take the time to remember.

Haunting, Jason.

Terri said...

I see this a different way. In the words on the stone I see relief after suffering. That's a good thing, right?

Jeff said...

Beautiful photo, Jason.

and this:

"I'm not scared of shadows.
But then, I realize. The shadow bleeds from me. Merciless disease, however weakened, is never gone, never beaten. I can't run from shadows.
What we face is real. I'm angry for us."

Is excellent! Well done. :)

beadinggalinMS said...

He was so young 23 and from the words on the stone suffered. I see this the same way as Terri.

M. G. Tarquini said...

The inscription is amazing. You don't know how amazing that is.

jason evans said...

Tanya, these Victorian cemeteries are testaments to the impact of advances in medicine.

Jess, the personalized epitaphs are uncommon, but so powerful.

Terri, yes, the end of suffering is a blessing. What bothers me, though, is the statment "short time he bore" his afflication. I get the sense this was a healthy person who was struck down.

Jeff, thank you for the kind words. That trip affected me more than usual. As for the picture, the condition of that stone is very beautiful.

BeadinggalinMS, I'm glad he did not linger in his suffering.

jason evans said...

Mindy, sorry, I just missed you as I was typing my response. My guess is that many of the epitaphs I find were pre-carved in the stones. You probably chose from among blanks--everything complete except the personal information. With stones like these, the family wanted their own words to live on, so they undertook the time and expense. I understand their need.

Erik Ivan James said...

Jason, you are a rare heart, it's such a shame that God gives us so few.

Sandra Ruttan said...

I thought relief after suffering as well terri.

Still sad, though.

Melissa Marsh said...

Such a young age, forever captured in stone and now, in your wonderful post. :-)

mermaid said...

No, we can't run from shadows. But we can hug them as our friends or foes, and accept them.

I've noticed your fascination with tombstones, and I wonder if there is a deeper dance with death, a story that is hidden behind or underneath the tombstones.

jason evans said...

Erik, I'm humbled by your words. Simply humbled.

Sandra, thank you for taking the moment to remember him.

Melissa, that was really the cause of the darkness following me that day. So many young. I've found three or four children in neat rows, all dead within weeks of each other. So much sadness, it's as if the ground itself remembers.

Mermaid, if I could choose, I'd rain down enough light to destroy the shadows. As for my fascination, it's less with death than with change and loss. It's in our nature to bond with a place and time and to mourn them when they're gone. That's why the elderly lose the ability to adapt to the world while the young thrive.

Dana Y. T. Lin said...

The Chinese have a saying that though times change and the water flows, the stones of earth remain.

(okay, my translation is a little shaky, but you get the idea).

Lady M said...

I thought I was the only person who enjoyed walking through graveyards and reading stones.

I love them!

It's a bit odd, but so many of them tell of such a wonderful past and lead you off with characters to think of.

Lady M

jason evans said...

Dana, I like that! So very true.

Lady M, I don't think there are many of us out there. ;) I've though more about Mermaid's comment/question above, and I think I have the answer (for me at least). I seek out pockets of frozen time. I want to see the world through the eyes of others, including those who lived in worlds long lost. Gravestones are a reflection of those lost times. They offer a glimpse into the atmosphere of their era.

Rene said...

How dark. Your words are very emotional, I can feel the helpless anger.

Buffy said...

I really like this post. It reminds me so much of my Pa and 'back home'.

I grew up around cemeteries. My grandparents have albums and albums full of the dead in their coffins. It was just something their families did 'back then'.

I hear so many stories from my grandfather about 'his people'. And I spent so much time around their graves...(we use to picnic there....sounds odd but wasnt if you were from the mountain).

Cate said...

Thank you so much for sharing this. I found it to be heart-rending, though beautiful, also.

"Till God at last did call him home, And eased him of his pain."--I would bet that the family drew much comfort from those words.

I believe that William would be grateful for this bit of time, this consideration, that you have given him. Thank you for ensuring that he is not forgotten.

jason evans said...

Rene, it's probably crazy, but I feel like I'm giving something to these people when I visit. Someday, perhaps, a stranger will stand over me and spare a moment of reflection.

Buffy, I'd love to hear more about your experiences! In some places, the line between the living and the dead is more blurred. I hope to see you back!

Cate, I'm touched that in one brief visit, you understand why I've done this. In the index on the right, you will find a few other remembrance posts. I hope to see you back!

mermaid said...

"It's in our nature to bond with a place and time and to mourn them when they're gone."

So true. I get the feeling that the key to my happiness (peace) is to accept and embrace the moment. I just keep misplacing the darn thing.

jason evans said...

Mermaid, that's a good point. I do think, however, that we can be happy and still have a special love and yearning for our own era.

jane said...

I love your gravestone shots Jason - they are all so sensitively done.