|Circle of St. John at Mount Moriah Cemetery, Philadelphia, winter 2011|
My focus of this article, however, is less on the magnitude of this work than on the meticulous CARE involved. Obviously, the people involved are focused on more than just the brute force work of clearing the area of invasive trees, vines, and knotweed. They’re doing this because they’re interested in what’s under the brush – the graves of our ancestors. This is about respect for the dead and keeping their memory alive.
This particular urn was found embedded in the ground, having fallen about ten feet from the top of the monument behind it, god knows how many years ago. The Friends (Bill Warwick, Bill McDowell, and Ken Smith) dug it out and carefully placed it where you see it in the photo. My estimate of the weight of this thing is three hundred pounds. No small feat. To give you an idea of the size of this objet d’art, take a look at the photo below of me crouched behind a similar urn a few plots away. I weight two hundred pounds and am six foot two.
However, designers did not use the urn as a literal symbol of a cinerary urn (which holds ashes, or cremated remains), simply because cremation was far less common then.They meant for it to symbolize a container of sorts, like the human body, which holds inside it, the soul.
Douglas Keister, in his book, Stories in Stone,” says:
Keister tells us that the phrase “gone to pot” may have originated as a reference to a cinerary urn.
|Friends' treasurer Ken Smith, with chain saw|
Visit the Friends of Mount Moriah Cemetery, Inc. website to learn more and find out how you can help! (Click here!)