even when you’re down, look up

“A people who do not honor the deeds of their worthy dead
will do nothing worthy of being honored by their descendants.”


(a weathered tombstone, Myers Cemetery, Townsend, TN / Julie Cook / 2020)

It was hot, nearing 90, as the sun beat down on our backs.
The bugs certainly weren’t bothered by the heat as they swarmed around our faces.
My husband kept slapping at his legs to fend off the ravenous bites.

On this particular July 4th, 2020 we found ourselves wandering around the oldest cemetery
in this particular part of Tennessee—
Myers Cemetery in the small sleepy town of Townsend, Tennessee.

Townsend boasts being the quiet side of the Smokies…
a far cry from nearby Pigeon Forge or Gatlinburg.

We like quiet.

Townsend is one of the gateways to The Great Smokey Mountains National Park…
in particular the gateway to Cades Cove—
One of the first mountain settlements by white European immigrants in what was
originally a part of the Cherokee Nation.

Myers cemetery dates back to 1795, if not even years before.
There are approximately 300 graves, many unknown, and even many unmarked.
Out of the approximate 300 marked graves,
75 graves belong to children under the age of 12.

There was the bittersweet double tombstone of twins born in 1805—
each living 4 and 5 days respectively.

Sheep and lambs that rest atop tombstones, denote the graves of children.

Even the small etched hand, held within a larger hand.

But many of the oldest graves simply have a single stone or piece of slate marking one’s place.

And so when I saw the worn weathered marker of a hand with a finger pointing upward, I couldn’t
help but see the significance that even in death, we are reminded our hope and help
comes from above.

So as we find ourselves currently gripped by all sorts of angst, sorrow, fear and the unknown on this earth, it is here in a quiet mountain cemetery , walking amongst the long dead, that I am pointedly reminded that even in death,
we are to always look up…

“We must pray literally without ceasing— without ceasing—
in every occurrence and employment of our lives…
that prayer of the heart which is independent of place or situation,
or which is rather a habit of lifting up the heart to God as in a constant
communication with Him.”

St. Elizabeth Ann Seton

I lift up my eyes to the hills.
From where does my help come?
My help comes from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot be moved;
he who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, he who keeps Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
The Lord is your keeper;
the Lord is your shade on your right hand.
The sun shall not strike you by day,
nor the moon by night.
The Lord will keep you from all evil;
he will keep your life.
The Lord will keep
your going out and your coming in
from this time forth and forevermore.

Psalm 121

10 comments on “even when you’re down, look up

  1. hatrack4 says:

    Is the restaurant that serves trout still there? I have not been to the cemetery, but when I worked on a project for ALCOA, I went to Townsend often.

    • Sadly no— not the trout farm back up near the Tuckaleechee cave— nor are the ones in town— all new and not nearly as good— we stay at the Dancing Bear Lodge— they have individual cabins but a very good, albeit expensive, bistro and lodge area— that was what was closed down due to COVID

      • hatrack4 says:

        Before my parents died and we got a little money, enough to pay most of our debts, I could have been laid off one week and filing for bankruptcy the next. I wonder how many businesses closed down for good when the COVID lockdown started? We can’t blame the present administration, but many will. It was a no win situation, and we still haven’t adjusted to the new reality.

      • Oh I say we’ve got to open— be smart like this lodge and though it’s an inconvenience— they did the right thing— still could rent cabins, scrambled to help find other dining arrangements but we do what we do— we cannot close our world— we press toward— we fought a world war during a pandemic and yes more folks, in particular younger non immune folks, contracted the Spanish flu — yet the world did not shut down—- we have to trudge through it—it’s what we do— carry on!!!

      • hatrack4 says:

        I am just thinking of those on a shoestring budget that only stayed open from one day to the next. Right now, my wife and I probably have less than one percent of what a money person thinks we need to retire but I really have no other choice than to trust SSA and Jesus. There may be store owners like that.

      • My husband told me tonight part of him wished he’d kept his business longer but knew the pandemic would have been the store’s demise— yes— we trust day to day

  2. Joy Holley says:

    I have multiple relatives buried in that cemetery that I have discovered in my genealogy work. It is a beautiful hillside.

  3. Tricia says:

    Looking up for help is such simple but great advice. I need to do it more often.

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