Weekly Photo Challenge: Near and Far

St. Paul’s Churchyard, Manhattan

The challenge for this week is to show perspective.  I like this photo because it captures both proximity and distance, but also spans time from the colonial graveyard to 21st-century Manhattan outside the cemetery gates.

I took this photo on my iPhone on our first day in New York City.  We were jet-lagged and it was hot (or at least, it seemed hot to people used to San Franciscan summer).  My daughter dragged her feet and whined about having to visit a cemetery.

Stories always make her perk up and connect to the places we visit, so I told her briefly about the 9/11 attacks.  I pointed out the skeleton of the new World Trade Center rising nearby.  I told her about the planes and the firemen and the people who died.  I told her about the photo I’d seen of this churchyard snowed over with debris fallen from the towers:  insulation and financial papers and children’s drawings, things blown out of the offices above.  I told her about the rescuers who’d slept in the church while they searched for survivors and the empty t-shirts that hung on the fence when I visited last time, eloquent memorials to the first responders who were lost when the towers fell.

St. Paul’s Churchyard stands as a symbol to me.  My feelings are complicated, threaded with horror and sadness, but at the heart, I felt compassion and connection there.  The graves are old. They endure.  The world swirls around them, but here, in this shaded green place, a traveler found peace.  May the world find peace as well.

Cemetery of the Week #75: St. Paul’s Chapel churchyard

About Loren Rhoads

I am the author of the essay collection Wish You Were Here: Adventures in Cemetery Travel, co-author of the novel As Above, So Below, and editor of The Haunted Mansion Project: Year Two. Scribner published my favorite essays from Morbid Curiosity magazine as Morbid Curiosity Cures the Blues. In addition to blogging at CemeteryTravel.com, I blog about my morbid life at lorenrhoads.com.
This entry was posted in Photo Challenges and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

17 Responses to Weekly Photo Challenge: Near and Far

  1. Wonderful post and such a great picture. I love the perspective of the old and the new.

  2. coastalcrone says:

    A most unusual shot! I too like your story and agree with the symbolism. Very well put.

  3. This is a fantastic take on near and far. I really hadn’t thought of the theme in this way so thanks for sharing this!

    • Loren Rhoads says:

      Thanks! Time is kind of telescoped by this photo: now looking back, June when I took the photo, my first visit 10 years ago, 9/11. and the origination of the churchyard. Near and very, very far…

  4. loubyjo says:

    I reall y like the story that goes with the pictures as they say a picture paints a thousand words

  5. Aian Ramos says:

    A very touching post and an interesting picture.
    I love your blog theme, too :)

  6. adiferd says:

    nice post, a different way of thinking.. and also a touching story

  7. It’s so strange to think that the kids growing up now don’t know anything about 9/11. It must be difficult to explain such a horrible event to little kids.

    P.S. Nice photo. I love the purple pops of color from the flowers.

    • Loren Rhoads says:

      I hadn’t planned to say anything at all to her, but since we were in the shadow of the new World Trade Center, it was on my mind. She took the whole story in stride (I didn’t dwell on any of the details), but she really wanted to know the names of the pilots. I told her that they didn’t deserve to be remembered. She was surprised by that. I was surprised by her interest in who the bad guys were.

      I loved these purple hydrangeas. They were the only flowers growing in the graveyard — and they were such an amazing color. I took five or six photos of them.

  8. Jo says:

    Very touching post. It’s really interesting to see the old tucked away, right next to the new. Lovely photo, too. :)

  9. Pingback: Cemetery of the Week #73: St. Paul’s Chapel churchyard | Cemetery Travel: Adventures in Graveyards Around the World

  10. Pingback: Weekly Photo Challenge: My 2012 in Pictures | Cemetery Travel: Adventures in Graveyards Around the World

What would you like to add?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s