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Of No Consequence?


Today my friend Annie at McGuffy's Reader wrote a blog post entitled A Lonely Grave about a single gravesite located between two truckstops off I-70 in Pennsylvania.  The grave marker states that the man buried there died in 1818 at the age of 41.  Not a great deal more is known about him.  One of the comments on her post said that "Perhaps he was a man of no consequence, if there can be such a thing." That set my mind to thinking...

Is it possible that anyone could be of such insignificance that his living or dying was of no consequence to the world?  When I visit old cemeteries, or gravesites like the one pictured above, I always wonder about the person whose physical remains are buried there.  He had a mother and a father, what was his childhood like?  Was he a loved and valued member of his family, or were his early years marked with neglect or abuse?  Was he well fed or did he go hungry? Did he laugh more than he cried? 

What about when he grew up? Did he marry and raise a family?  Were there children and wife to mourn his sudden demise?  Forty one really isn't very old, even though folks generally didn't live as long back then as they do now.

Where did he live, did he have a good home?  In the country or the city? How did he earn a living? Was he wealthy or poor? Was he a man of good character, or was he the town drunk or ne'er do well? 

We will probably never know the answers, but it brings forth another and perhaps more important question....  Even if he was the lowliest member of the community, was his life of value?  What if he was homeless, or a drunk, or a drug addict, or a wife-beater?  No value at all then?

I once had a co-worker who used to refer to people he deemed unworthy as "a waste of skin."  How that remark used to rile me!  Sometimes it is easy to look upon such people with an uncaring heart or even with contempt or scorn, but is it fair to say that their life had no meaning or purpose at all,?  Would it truly have made no difference if they were never born? Would it perhaps in some cases be better if they had never lived at all? 

What about people like Adolf Hitler, at whose hands so many suffered and died?  Would the world have been a better place if he had never lived? Or is it likely that someone else would have been born to fill that role, to take that place in the grand scheme of life. Would the ultimate outcome of that horrible time just have been played out on a different stage in another way?  I don't know the answer to that anymore than anyone really does, at least while they remain in the realm of the living.

I do know what I believe though, and that is that each individual is imbued with spirit, and that together as a whole we make up life, along with all created things; each is a piece of the puzzle which is essential to the entire picture, and puzzle with one piece missing is a sad work of art indeed. 

Whether or not anyone remembers the man buried in the grave near the truckstop, or remembers anything of you or me after we are gone, I want to think that in some way he made a difference, and hopefully that I did too.

12 comments:

  1. Thank you for linking to me; I am honoured.
    Thank you for caring about Cornelius and his place in the world. You posed a lot of the questions that I wonder about him. He was, IS, someone.
    I am working with some people in PA to find out more. And I will post it.
    Thanks for caring, too. I appreciate it, and I'd like to think he does too.

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    1. Thank you, Dearest Annie. I am eager to find out more about this man. I believe that each person - however lowly or insignificant in our eyes - is important, and has a role to fulfill while on this earth, even if that role is one we can't accept or truly comprehend.

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  2. Every time I pass a cemetery, I am reminded that every one of them had worries, fears, hopes and dreams: yet we ALL end up on equal ground. (no pun intended) Then I try to convince myself that all my worries, fears, hopes and dreams are of no consequence. I then try, and fail, to stop paying so much attention to my worries, fears, hopes and dreams, and realize no one ever stopped the inevitable with all the worry, fears, hopes and dreams.

    As you can tell, I have a rather introspective and morose personality. That too, I wish I could change.

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    1. So true, Lotta Joy. We bloggers have friends from all around the world and all walks of life, yet we all feel the same emotions, and share the same joys, fears, and pain. It is that to be human! Those buried also had lives. I wonder the same kinds of questions about old abandoned houses and the families that once lived within those walls. I am also a very introspective person, and I have come to embrace that side of me. Life isn't really easy, and not always very fun, but it is undeniably and adventure and an experience I would not have wanted to miss out on. Take each day as it comes, too much fear debilitates us!

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  3. I think that everyone intrinsically has a value but often society placs the wrong emphasis on who is impotant and who isn't. I think a lot about people who have died in impoverished situations who end up in unmarked graves and such and it kind of breaks my heart. The truth is that person would have meant something to someone at some stage. It's impossible that he didn't. Everyone, everywhere, has value. I firmly believe that!

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    1. I so agree Selma! I know of an unmarked grave in a cemetary in the city where I work, and of the person buried there. He was very important in the life of someone I know and care about. That there is no marker to tell us that he' buried there I think is a crying shame.

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  4. One of my favorite things to do when I was younger was to check out old cemeteries just to walk thru and read the headstones ah such history while I was pregnant with my youngest we learned of this one that had stones dated back to the early 1800's they had carvings in wood that was petrified so cool. It does make a person think how we all will make are mark upon where we are laid to rest what words will be written of us if any?? This was very touching and I to look forward to hearing more :)

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    1. I love cemeteries too, Janice, especially the older ones which so often have interesting epitaphs. Yes indeed, how, if at all, will our lives be remembered? What thoughts and memories will our loved ones pass on to others when we are gone?

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  5. Sometimes I feel this way about my own life. Who will really remember me other than those closest to me? I know we are all designed by the Creator with a purpose. Sometimes we can easily see that purpose and understand and then other times we cannot. Although some people seem to waste their lives away, each one is ever bit as precious to God as those who do great things. We just need to remember this instead of being so cynical. Very good post and interesting view point. Now following....Cathy

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    1. Welcome Cathy! Thank you so much for help with my button! It's good for us to stop and consider every now and then what we will be remembered for. I think that content of our character is far more important than what we had, or what we did!

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  6. Even though life has been very good to me, I wouldn’t mind lying in an unknown grave. I don’t see more importance in my dead remains than I do in my fingernail clippings that have been discarded over the years. What matters to me, is life as we live it… afterwards, let it all be recycled.

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    1. I agree with you about our bodies, Shimon - I see them like the cocoon of a butterfly...something to be abandoned as we fly free. For that reason, I have chosen to have my ashes scattered rather than have my body buried somewhere that my children will need to attend to. More important is how we are remembered, rather than where we are remembered.

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