The Funerary Memorial and the Houses of Eternity


Forever is a long time, seems to me.  Longer than I can imagine, and I can imagine an awful lot, “everything beneath the sun, and beyond”, for instance.  “Forever”, though, “well”, I mean to say, “even physicists cannot agree on what was on the mind of God when time and the universe was created.”  Yes, in fact, Einstein was stumped.

What existed before the existence of this space and time, you might wonder.  In truth, no one can say, though most have opinions.  Those most frightened have the biggest opinions, seems to me.  All we all are limited by what we are, alike the butterfly with several eyes, ears upon its wings, and a brain no larger than the ball-point of a pen.  How big the mind, our minds, well, that is another question.

The mind, hum, here too physicists are stumped.  In fact, physicists haven’t the first idea of the nature of a mind, being a thing immaterial, impossible to calculate, impossible to comprehend.  Bodies, now, those are easy, measurable with a ruler, weighed by a scale, subdivided by parts, examined, quantified, sometimes tickled.


Graceland, Houses of Eternity

Graceland Cemetery, Chicago. credit: M. Curtis


And the soul?  Easier to say what was on the mind of God at this time’s beginning than to speak with authority of the soul, though billions of people will confirm that, in fact, their personal soul is real, ontologically.  Now, try arguing with that.  I cannot know how a pickle tastes to you, so how might I describe your experience of soul.

Your body though, well, that is easy, I know its size, its shape, how it moves.  I and many another know how to make rooms to serve your body, furniture to ease your body, and I know how to please your senses, how to satisfy your reason, I know how to make for you beautiful rooms in a beautiful house, as you have found in the illustrations of these pages.

How though to design your forever house.  No, not your retirement house, nor the house for family raising, nor the house of ultimate worldly success, but your house of eternity: your home base, you might say.  The home plate, having come round the track to the beginning.  The game over, the silent stands.  We all arrive, and there to remain.


Laurel Hill, Houses of Eternity

Laurel Hill Cemetery, Philidelphia. credit: Littleny – Stock


In this month’s Beautiful Home, the Houses of Eternity, the place of final rest or of final action … who can say.  There are houses of slab, alike an inventory; there are houses of last paragraphs, the final word; there are houses of symbol, rich in metaphor; there are great monuments, honor to excellence, encouragement to kindred; and there are houses alike homes, fit for a restful family, beautiful and silent.

And, as in life, there are fashions in dying, opinions of the ever-after.  Just now, the prevailing fashion is to erase the body and to forget the person, to turn the flesh to ash or mud or compost (truly) and expunge the name from all digital records.  There is the common fashion of ground-set slabs of bronze or stone, a convenience to lawnmowers and weedwhackers, a species of dirty file drawer where a person can be foldered, closed, forgotten.

As you have seen, The Beautiful Home is indifferent to fashions, disinterested in trends, choosing instead friendship with tradition, conversation with wisdom.  Seems to me, there is honor in humanity, beauty and goodness that deserves remembrance.  Perhaps you agree.  Perhaps you agree that a person is more than random atoms, that each Adam’s soul is the image of God.  “How to make a house for that”, I wonder.


Authors Ridge, Houses of Eternity

Authors Ridge, Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, Concord. credit: Lucas Correa Pacheco


Perhaps God already has.  Perhaps the house for random atoms is compost.  Either way, I hope you enjoy this month’s Houses of Eternity, places suitable to a beautiful soul, to rest after a good life.  Then too this month: architect Milton Grenfell considers the window, architect Erik Bootsma considers the front porch, and sculptor Andy del Gallo offers insights on a lifetime of memorialization’s.


*   *   *

Houses of Eternity featured image: Cemetery Angel, Fewerton.

*   *   *