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Finding Beauty in a Different Place MAG
"Beauty is a primeval phenomenon, which itself never makes its appearance, but thereflection of which is visible in a thousand different utterances of the creativemind, and is as various as nature herself." - Goethe, quoted in JohannPeter Eckermann's Conversations with Goethe
Do you have a placewhere you can connect with a person? A place where you can go, and they willalways be waiting for you? I do. There's a place I can always go to visit mygrandparents, to recall favorite memories, or just to say "hi." It isone of the most beautiful places I have ever seen, and is a place where I, withina few minutes, can experience every feeling I have ever felt all atonce.
It is half past two as my car crawls up the road; I can almost heara whisper beckoning me inside the tall, strong iron gates guarding the entrance.The gates connect to a fence that is not quite as tall and stretches from eachside, embracing the land to the left and right as far as the eye can see. To theright is a small building, nothing special, just a one-story building with somemetal doors and a window or two.
Passing this building, I continue througha maze of paved pathways and roads. Friendly gardeners in blue jumpsuits watch mepass. I can see the sweat trickling down their faces, gleaming in the afternoonheat. They know never to speak with me and, out of respect, to keep theirdistance. My curiosity gets the best of me and my thoughts drift to wonderingwhat it would be like to come here day after day, working in the heat, neverspeaking to anyone. The familiar whisper tickles my ears and my thoughts shiftback to reality.
I pull my car to a curb and climb out. The smell offreshly cut grass lingers in the air. Walking down the path, I look back andrealize the small building and the entrance are no longer visible. In their placeare rows and rows of white. In all directions, as far as I can see, brilliantwhite shines back at me. In the distance, I see a blur moving closer. Thepeaceful quiet that once surrounded me is slowly being invaded bysound,
Amazing Grace! How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch likeme.
I once was lost, but now am found,
Was blind, but now Isee.
The soft young voice melts into the silence so perfectly that itseems as though it has always been there. Tens of thousands of people aresuddenly listening to this innocent voice and her sorrowful song.
A gentlebreeze brings that familiar whisper back to my ear and pushes me down the path.Every so often I stop under the shade of a tree to admire the splotches of coloramong the rows of white. There are flowers of every kind and every color, andmany bloom year-round with colors that hardly ever dim. The roses glow a deepred, the violets radiate a beautiful purple, and the daffodils are a halo ofsun-kissed yellow. My nose rejoices in the heavenly scent of these flowers.
Everywhere I step it is as if I have walked into the most elegant floralboutique. I look at my hand, then at a nearby trash bin, and then reconsider.Although the flowers I carry do not compare to the intensity of the beauty here,Grandma will surely like them.
The ground becomes more familiar as Icontinue, and I realize that it is only a little farther. Up ahead, someone iskneeling, weeping. It is an elderly woman, her sobbing shoulders covered with ablack coat. The growing whisper coaxes me off the path, so as not to disturb her,and I glance back to see her leaning forward and kissing a stone in front ofher.
At last, Grandma and Grandpa's! It is four o'clock and the loomingentrance, the building, the friendly gardeners, the singing girl and the cryingold woman are all be-hind me. The rows of white surround me in every direction. Awhisper speaks gently in my ear and washes me from head to toe with the mostpeaceful feeling I have ever experienced.
Remembering why I am here, Igive half of my flowers to Grandma and bend down to kiss the stone at my feet.Betty Rose Kuhlman. Grandpa is waiting on the other side. I walk around and givehim the rest of my flowers. I bend to kiss this side of the stone. WilbertFrederick Kuhlman.
Later, driving slowly out of the iron gates of FortSnelling Cemetery, a tear runs down my face and finds its way to the corner of mymouth. Memories of the great times I had with my grandparents run through myhead. They watched over me and cared for me when I was young, and now they canwatch over me and care for me for the rest of my life, as a quiet whisper in myear.
Fort Snelling Cemetery brings back every feeling I have ever felt andthe memories I shared with my grandparents. Hun-dreds of people have memories,flowers, pictures and loved ones enclosed behind these strong iron gates.Cemeteries normally go hand-in-hand with ghost stories, sorrow, fear and death.Fort Snelling Cemetery is tied to heroes, life, liberty and thousands ofemotions, both joyful and sorrowful. I never knew you could find so much beautyin such an unexpected place.