“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.