This I Believe

Rodney - Indianapolis, Indiana
Entered on November 7, 2006
Age Group: 30 - 50
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The Promise of Bonaventure

Whenever my partner and I go on vacation, let there be no doubt that he will identify a historic cemetery he wants to visit. I on the other hand, am always quick to suggest more uplifting ideas on how we could spend our afternoon together. During our recent vacation to Savannah, Georgia, I reluctantly agreed to ride along with him to visit yet another historic cemetery. However, during this specific visit, I had a very different experience for some reason. Bonaventure Cemetery sets upon the banks of the Wilmington River on the outskirts of Old Savannah. As we walked through the cemetery gates, I was immediately taken by the beauty and serenity of Bonaventure. A placid Cathedral had been formed under the canopies of towering century-old trees and within walls of gently swaying moss stretching to the ground from the branches above. Through the years, nature and man had together created this sacred space where hundreds have been laid to rest for eternity.

As I explored Bonaventure, the noise is my mind was pushed aside by solitude, and time seemed to stand still. My eyes were drawn to beautiful Victorian era statuary as well as simple weather worn grave markers. Each monument, no matter how ornate or simple, was engraved with a name, date, and possibly a reflective phrase in remembrance of a life. The countless recorded histories left me wondering more about the departed over whose graves I stood: who were they, what inspired them, what gave them joy, and why did their loved ones choose to remember them with this unique monument? For some, more than 150 years have now passed since their deaths, and the answers I seek have faded with time.

All the departed at Bonaventure, no matter how far removed from one another while alive, are now united together as one, resting peacefully. Each was given the breath of life, experienced the joys and trials of the human condition, and died. Having lived their unique lives, the ageless departed are now collectively part of the history of humankind, a history upon which I now stand, and a history into which I will fade with the passing of time.

I believe places like Bonaventure stand as a perpetual reminder for me to fully embrace the journeys of those that have gone before me, and to incorporate their shared wisdom into my daily actions. I believe if I open my heart and mind to the abundant wisdom buried in the past, I will be inspired to live a life that will make a positive difference in this world, and hopefully avoid repeating mistakes of the past. The word Bonaventure means “good journey”, and if I am open to the lessons of the past, I believe I will experience the “good journey” that Bonaventure promises all the living.