March 28, 2011

Places Of Tranquility.

These days I find myself in search of places that have an aura of stillness and tranquility about them.

My home is of course at all times my refuge and my safe haven.

Nevertheless, as warmer and brighter days define this season, I venture more often outside to my secret hideaways, those that are playgrounds to my thinking and my contemplation and where I find solace and comfort, which my body and soul currently crave.

However melancholic and odd it may sound, I must confess that these escapes bring me most often to graveyards and cemeteries, as they did again this past weekend.
The most serene, sheltered and transcending moments in time, which I carry in my recollection, have been experienced in churchyards, old monasteries or memorials. I have never found these places uncomfortable or unpleasant. On the contrary; they are defined by an endless atmosphere of quietness that is infinitely soothing.
As a teenager I wrote an assay piece based on reflections over a walk in a cemetery; most likely the best assay I ever wrote as a young adult. Even today I recall how effortlessly my pen documented the train of thoughts, as I described my stroll around the graves.

Already when I enter these sacred places, it is as if a border has been crossed. Have you ever noticed when you step into a graveyard in a bustling metropolis, that it seems as if a soundproof gate is suddenly in place, shutting out the busy sounds and scents of a living city - as if by a stroke of magic one enters an uncanny stillness of a divine ground.
This happens to me time and time again and I feel almost always as if a veil of troubles is lifted from my face and I can see clearly.

I never feel that I am surrounded by death. On the contrary, I feel surrounded by lives lived. To some, this is after all only a gateway to another world. To others simply a tribute and a memorial to those we once held dear and yet again, to almost everyone, cemeteries offer a certain snapshots of moments in history, as the inscriptions on the grave stones, standing as silent sentinels of time, tells stories of the past.

My eyes are often drawn to the infinite amounts of flowers, bushes and intricately garnished spots - it is as if nature always thrives here. Even neglected churchyards are always beautiful in any seasons, as when nature is left to grow unrestricted, it flourishes, creating the most amazing pieces of living art.
I have been to carefully maintained graveyards; some simple, some intricate, as well as to forgotten small cemeteries, which were lush and overgrown with scented shrubs - finding equal solace in each.

Sitting down below the tree crowns, at any time of the year, while letting myself become infused with the surrounding stillness is incredibly relaxing. With such an ease the troubles of my every day life are removed from my perception as I am faced with the greatest secret of them all - the secret of life and death.
At all times this reinforces the belief in me of how precious and magical our time here truly is - and most of all how limited and short - and how very often we forget this. Instead, we get caught up in the turmoil of our busy days, while we waste our time and energy on petty and insignificant things, letting ourselves succumb to unnecessary irritations.

How endlessly ignorant and irrelevant some troublesome aspects of my life appear while I sit under those trees. The true magic of just simply being alive - with all its pain and suffering as well as joy and happiness - is nowhere as palpable and appreciated, as at the only place where life appears to be truly devoid...



About the images below: My favorite place of tranquility near my home is a private, but today abandoned family graveyard located on the grounds of an old mansion, today turned museum.
It is tucked away between trees, hidden from view and off the beaten path. Very few people know of its existence. The images below are taken on my walk there this past autumn and even though I was sitting there alone for almost an hour, I have never ever felt less lonely and more safe then on that early, sunny September morning.




47 comments:

Colleen said...

Zuzana, we are kindred spirits. I truly fell the same about graveyards. I know what you mean, as I too find they have such a tranquility and restful peace. I love what you write about surrounding yourself with "lives lived". Beautiful and unusual thought!

I crave tranquility...I get a feeling you do too?:)

Beautiful post and photos. Have a wonderful day today.

Elizabeth said...

You're absolutely right about the silence. As soon as one enters the gate of a cemetery there is this beautiful serene silence and I love it.

steviewren said...

Beautiful post. I could feel the serenity in your words.

I've visited a number of beautiful cemeteries, but I think of the simple country graveyard near their former church that my grandparents are buried in. It is on a slight hill and one can look up and out onto a view of the surrounding farms. There is a sense of history there, my personal history.

Julie Hibbard said...

Love the thought of thinking of the 'lives lived' and taking solace in knowing you are alive. I think cemeteries are definite places of perspective...we all end up in the same place regardless of how we live, what we own, who we are...
GREAT GREAT post!

Gaston Studio said...

"Instead, we get caught up in the turmoil of our busy days, while we waste our time and energy on petty and insignificant things, letting ourselves succumb to unnecessary irritations."

This is so true Zuzana and I love the way you phrased it. I, too, get that same feeling but usually only when visiting small cemeteries like the one of your mansion. But what's important is that we each find a place where we can find the peace we all need, wherever that may be.

Kath said...

I have always loved the peaceful atmosphere of churchyards, ever since I was quite young. My friend and I would go and visit my Grandpas grave and just wander around. There are always many birds and we saw a fix once.

Brian Miller said...

nice. i spent lots of time in graveyards growing up...and still like to visit one of the two large ones locally...it is peaceful...and lover flowers as well...went to a flower show yesterday...so many exotic flowers it was beautiful...

Claus said...

Certainly an odd place (to many) to walk around in search of some tranquility. I don't like hospital, funeral homes and cemeteries. They all remind me of times of sadness and pain, for me, and my family. I can bear - and don't mind - pain. But I cannot stand to see - or the thought alone! - my family (brother and mother mainly) suffer, being sad, and be in pain. Those places, unfortunately, have given them the hardest times, and I dislike them intensely. A place for comfort, tranquility and space to think and meditate: home. Most definitely. An afternoon of silence is always available there.
Interesting post Zuzana!
have a great day!

Bossy Betty said...

I love going to cemeteries and walking around. I, too, feel a great deal of peace there.

I need to find a place within myself where I can find that tranquility we all seek. I'll keep working on that...

Susan Deborah said...

Last year, I did a post on cemeteries and that time you commented that you loved graveyards. Let me quote from your comment:

"Graveyards and cemetaries are my favorite places to be, I so enjoyed reading this. Excatly as you say; they are tranquil. Even though they hold a certain sadness, they are the most calming and peaceful places to visit and they make us think. Think about lives and destinies of ordinary people...
I once wrote an assay entiteld "A walk through a cemetary" in school, one of the best I have ever written."

Zuzana, I'm glad you did this post. And as you already know, cemeteries are one of my favourite places to go to when want of tranquil and peace.

Joy and peace for the week ahead and always,
Susan

Aunt Amelia's Attic said...

Yet another beautiful, beautiful post. So full of peace and wisdom.

And what a lovely retreat you have near by... A family grave yard, near a mansion-turned-museum.

Another Net-met friend of mine, would love to read this post, so I will give her a link to it. :-) You will find that you are kindred spirits in this way.

♥ Gentle hugs ♥

ladyfi said...

What wonderfully profound and beautiful thoughts. I don't live anywhere near a graveyard.. but I do like the idea of them being full of lives lived.

Last time I visited one, my son, then 6, bawled his eyes out...

Cottage Garden said...

Beautiful post Zuzana in both words and images.

I too have posted about my favourite ancient churchyard. I particularly love it in midsummer, amongst the meadowsweet, Crane's-bill and tall cow parsley. A place of great peace and tranquility, and not at all morbid. A place full of lives lived as you say, and a rich source of social history.

Your special place looks wonderful in the dappled September sunshine.

Jeanne
xox

Amanda said...

how lovely to have this secret hideaway - and how very cancerian of you (we cancerians love our secret gardens, don't we?!)

graveyards can be beautiful places, especially older ones. you feel the presence of those who went before so powerfully. your images are truly lovely, zuzana, and your words so heartfelt.

wishing you a blessed week ~

xx

Rustique Gal said...

Zuzana, What a lovely post. I love cemeteries too, and get that quiet, timeless feeling. My favorites are very old-the older, the more peaceful.
I feel the "spirits" of the past very strongly. My other favorites are ghost towns and deserted houses. I think we are on the same wavelength!
Hugs,
Sherry

Just_because_today said...

Our perception is influenced by our experience and even our upbringing. My family always spoke of graveyards with fear. Spirits lurked around unable to cross over. Sounds were heard at midnight. All in all, I was made afraid of them. I remain afraid. I do feel that silence when I walk into one, but it is not a silence i enjoy, it is unsettling to me because that is what I learned.

SandyCarlson said...

These are really wonderful places that put everything in perspective. I share your point of view!

Stickhorsecowgirls said...

Oh, I do concur with you on the peace and tranquility of an old graveyard. Some of the old headstones are pieces of artistic treasure! Many of the inscriptions touch my heart.

Yes, I think we all struggle with the 'tyranny of the urgent' at times. So nice to slow down and savor life and relationships with friends and family.

Margie said...

Oh, I loved this, Zuzana.
It made me feel so tranquil and peaceful!
You are so right when you say,
"I feel surrounded by lives lived"
That is just how I feel whenever I visit a cemetery.

Lovely post and lovely pictures!
Thank you!

Margie xo

Hilary said...

Beautiful post, Zuzana. I love cemeteries too. They're full of peace, history and lives loved.

Rajesh said...

Beautiful shots. Everyone have some place where they get some peace at inner-self.

Ann Nichols said...

What a lovely post! Very serene locations indeed! Funny how true life can often be met directly in cemeteries...
Blessings!
Ann
PS Edward is at home! meowing all over the house and bring many smiles of joy to our lips!

Angela Bell said...

Oh Zuzana I really agree with you about the beauty and tranquility of grave yards.To think of lives well lived is great. I used to work on a mobile library here in Cornwall and oten took my lunch into two or three ancient churchyards and like you felt uplifted not depressed. I loved to read the mossy tombstones and imagine! lol Angela

adrielleroyale said...

Beautiful, beautiful pictures/places!! While I have never experienced (nor went there to experience) the tranquility of such places, I know many who have. These places you have photographed are incredible, and I can only imagine the comfort found there for you and some of my friends. The only cemeteries I have seen do not even come close in comparison to the beauty of these! Blessings!

Sharon Lovejoy said...

Zuzana dear,

I don't find it at all strange! I too love to visit old graveyards and feel that thread of connection through time to eternity.

This seems like a difficult time for you...I am sending a warm hug and wishes for peace.

Love,

Sharon Lovejoy Writes from Sunflower House and a Little Green Island

Indie.Tea said...

I like cemetaries too, especially older ones, the tombstones are so interesting, to imagine what the lives of the people laying there must have been like....
Beautiful shots.

Phivos Nicolaides said...

Peace in mind...

SandyCarlson said...

I just love this post!

(Scribe816) said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Me said...

Maybe

Cricket said...

I love this. I have been thinking for some time about returning to a cemetery I used to frequent and taking some pictures of my "friends" for a post. Perhaps this will help give me a push. The slowly warming weather helps too.

And these people do become, in some sense, our friends, don't they? As we walk the same paths and read the inscriptions, we come to know them, maybe even to understand something of who they were... I don't know...

There are lessons to be learned that go far beyond memento mori.

Congratulations on your potw.

slommler said...

Beautiful post and I so agree with you. They are places of solitude and peace. History and stories long forgotten. And the architecture of the cemetery is unique and powerful!
Congrats on your POTW
Hugs
SueAnn

Moannie said...

I too have written a post about my devotion to the peace, beauty and solitude found in cemeteries. An how true it is that even in a noisy city one can find tranquility.

POTW mention, Congratulations.

Sumandebray said...

That was a nice post. I haven't been inside a graveyard that is still in use.But been to heritage sites. Its truly a great place to sit and reflect on life, ironical as it might seem

Sumandebray said...

That was a nice post. I haven't been inside a graveyard that is still in use.But been to heritage sites. Its truly a great place to sit and reflect on life, ironical as it might seem

Sumandebray said...

That was a nice post. I haven't been inside a graveyard that is still in use.But been to heritage sites. Its truly a great place to sit and reflect on life, ironical as it might seem

Sumandebray said...

That was a nice post. I haven't been inside a graveyard that is still in use.But been to heritage sites. Its truly a great place to sit and reflect on life, ironical as it might seem

Sumandebray said...

That was a nice post. I haven't been inside a graveyard that is still in use.But been to heritage sites. Its truly a great place to sit and reflect on life, ironical as it might sound.

Out on the prairie said...

There is a lot of peace and quiet in a graveyard. I worked in one when I was going to school through the summers.

Zuzu said...

Lovely post, Zuzana. I always feel surrounded by love when I visit a cemetary.
Hugs,
Zuzu

Joanna Jenkins said...

This is so beautifully written. I can appreciate how you feel at a cemetery. I feel the same way too.
Congrats on your POTW from Hilary.
Cheers, jj

CIELO said...

Lovely place you have here....

cielo

tony said...

Maybe it is a Slavic thing? I too enjoy cemeteries.And "enjoy" IS the correct word.
I notice the silence & atmosphere especially in the middle of London.An Oasis in the desert!
My favourite is Brompton.Although right in the middle of the capitol ,it has a beautiful tranquility about it.

ethelmaepotter! said...

So true, so true. My friends find me odd at times, and one of those times was when I one day mentioned this very subject - that I like to walk in graveyards. It IS comforting. I like to read the inscriptions and wonder about the stories behind those names, behind those dates. Sometimes I cry, as in a stone that reads only "baby boy smith;" sometimes I smile as in "born 1878, died 1978."

I once attended a family reunion that was held in the family graveyard. There were permanent concrete picnic tables set up there, so that ALL the family could be together once a year.

Congrats on your well-deserved POTW.

Zuzana said...

Colleen, Elizabeth, Stevie, Julie, Jane, Kath, Brian, Claudia, Betty, Susan, Amelia, ladyfi, Jeanne, Amanda, Sherry, Myriam, Sandy, C or V, Margie, Hilary, Rajesh, Ann, Angela, adrielle, Sharon, Indie, Philip, ,Me, Cricket, slommler, Moannie, Sumadebray, Out on the prairie, Zuzu, Joanna, Cielo, tony and ethelmaepotter – thank you all for your endlessly beautiful words. I am delighted to learn that majority of you can relate to the sentiments expressed in this post, as to the immense peace and soothing tranquility one can find in cemeteries and graveyards.
I truly enjoyed reading each and every comment and felt such a familiarity as to the description of your own experiences and impressions that these beautiful, serene places leave within you.
I personally always see them as a safe haven, a refuge for my mind, body and soul and to this day I carry with me unforgettable moments spend in beautiful spots all around Europe, that I had the privilege to visit in my past.
I do also understand though that to some of you these are places of sorrow and melancholy and that I truly and deeply respect.

To those of you who found your way here via Hilary’s; thank you so much for taking the time to read my post and for your kind words.

To the rest of you; as always - your visits are the highlight of my days and your poignant and substantial comments at all times endlessly appreciated.

Xoxo,
Zuzana

Jerry said...

I have always been endeared to old cemeteries with gnarled trees and aged cracking tombstones. I always wonder what the buried folks would think of me walking, touching and musing amongst them so many years later.

Gal Friday said...

Another one who loves to be in graveyards(I drive my daughter nuts whenever we visit Boston and I make her go into the old cemetaries with me) --they are beautiful and I feel those buried there would want us to visit, even if they have been long departed and we never met.