The surprise connection in reading on a grave

I was at the Blackwood cemetery last week. Yes is it is lovely but I wasn’t there for the ambience. I was there to find Mrs McGregor’s grave. Apparently that has the best reception in town.

I didn’t end up finding Mrs McGregor’s grave, but Edward Vaughan gets good coverage too. I stood on his grave with my arm outstretched to heaven, phone in hand and walla! 2 bars. Enough to get the email I wanted. (Photo above).

I was there with a friend for lunch. No we didn’t have lunch at the cemetery. That came later. We had a delicious lunch at Blackwood general store, well worth a visit if you’re in the area.

Both of us had gathered at Blackwood to share our writing. I carried a printed version of my morning’s writing in my pocket. My friend (who I’ll call Mary) had sent hers in an email before she left Melbourne to drive to Blackwood. But over lunch we discovered we had no coverage and hence the pilgrimage to Mrs McGregor’s grave.

I quite like hanging out in cemeteries. I find them peaceful. Reminds me of the transience of life. Not sure why that’s comforting. And when death is closest I feel most alive as if death shakes me roughly awake. “Wake up,” he shouts in my face or whispers when I am lounging into my comfort zone.

Once we downloaded the email, we sat on Edward’s grave and read to each other. Mary read what I had written that morning and I read hers on my phone.

In that moment of reading and listening a whole world opened up between us, as wide as the desert night sky, and yet as soft as the down under a swallow’s wing. As we held each other’s soul for a few moments reading aloud, the brisk early afternoon beauty of Blackwood leaned in close to listen in quiet reverence to the raw honesty in our writing. All the ghosts lay still, remembering life.

Reading Mary I felt the tears on the page and the ache of sorrow in her bones. And when she read back to me what I had written only a few hours before it felt like mine and yet not mine. Hearing it in that quiet afternoon surrounded by ghosts and gums made it larger, more vivid and real and yet more bearable, soft-edged. At once, significant and insignificant like a line of ants crawling across Edward’s headstone.

It was as if we were connected through our writing.

The thing that struck me most was the similarity in our writing. It was as though we’d been sitting in a room together as we wrote. Yet we’d been hours apart when we sat down to write in our separate lives that morning.

A few days later I was watching a You Tube clip about oneness. The guy, who had big hair, so I thought perhaps it was made in the eighties, was talking about connection. How we are all interconnected.

He described an experiment with meditators.

Two people meditate together for a time. Then while they are still in the meditative state they are taken to two separate rooms and their brains are wired up to a screen.

When they are in separate rooms one is shown some images, and her brain response is recorded. What is fascinating is that the same brain patterning occurs simultaneously in the other meditator in another room. Now that is one cool brain trick.

Sitting together in the sharp soft afternoon among the dead gave me a deep feeling of connection. Not just to Mary but to writing and to living.

As I sit here alone before dawn writing in a holy solitude, the silence invites me in to wonder at the connection of this human heart and mind, brain. It’s as if I am alone together with the world. And we are all resting on someone’s grave, with Death sitting next to his sister, Life, in an intricate web of interconnected mystery.

I bow my head as I write it down. My thoughts and words weaving these threads of wonder through this small drop of humanity that I call mine, me, connected to the vast ocean of possibility between life and death, between sorrow and joy, and between you and me.


Leave a Reply