I know I look down a lot more than up, and it’s usually because I trip over my own feet and frequently wear high heels. Not the best combination.
This summer I visited St. Simons Island for a writing conference, and during a three-hour lunch break (is that not the best break for lunch?) I rambled over the island. I didn’t have a map but I think I drove end to end, from the beach and the lighthouse over to Fort Frederica and Christ Church, which is where I took this photo.
I walked over the grounds, hallowed for many reasons. As I passed through the cemetary, I do as I often do when in a graveyard; I read the names of those buried, the days they were born and the days they died, and wonder about the lives they lived in between. In that minute, there isn’t anyone else with me. Squirrels pause. Birds stop their flight and muttering. Looking down, I see the outlines of bodies, cold, still, lifeless. Alone. It is morbid but that’s what I imagine and the humidity suddenly seems more wet and chill than sweltering.
When I look up and gaze along the hedgerows and over the marble and limestone headstones, I see these bodies now reformed and walking among me, their memories and love still burning through the shadows and into the dappled paths, adding an extra spark of energy to the still world around me. Then I exhale and the moment passes.
A bird trills a soft sweet note over my head. Looking up into the sun, I am blinded. The light crosses colors from jade to violet and back to red. What I once thought reality recenters slowly into a new image. Even though the object hasn’t changed, my perspective has. No, I don’t believe I’m walking among ghosts. I do believe in angels, though. And sometimes it takes a moment to believe there can be an answer that you won’t find looking down. Your temporal eyes first need your heart to see. It comes in a whisper, like the ones caused by the collective sway of moss caught in salt breeze. Not a bad way to spend a mild summer island-afternoon. Only one word of caution when you visit: be careful what you ask while standing alone in a graveyard if you aren’t ready for the answer.