On a recent visit to Boston (a two-hour drive from our home in Maine), we decided on a whim to swing through Concord, Massachusetts. Famous for its early role in the Revolutionary War, Concord is also home to Sleepy Hollow Cemetery where literary giants Henry David Thoreau, Louisa May Alcott, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Ralph Waldo Emerson lay in rest on Authors Ridge—the focus of our impromptu visit.
A sense of solemnity settled over me as I got out of the car; I was stricken with a feeling of sadness immediately followed by regret. You see, I’d brought no offering for these amazing writers. I stopped at the base of the hill, seriously considering turning around and going to the nearest grocery store to pick up a bouquet of flowers.
After a brief confab with my husband—during which he said he’d do whatever I wanted to do (but…did I mention we were on our way home after a long day and we hadn’t eaten since breakfast?)—I waffled but reluctantly decided I’d pay my respects and that would be good enough.
We climbed the small hill to the ridge, first faced with Henry David Thoreau’s gravesite. As I looked at the large stone, I noticed a few pens to one side of the monument…were these left by accident, I wondered? But then I looked more carefully. Each author’s headstone had some small offerings: pens, pinecones, rocks, pennies, all piled on or next to them.
These small items…were they offered as gifts to the deceased greats, I wondered? Or were they more? A prayer, a beseech? A hope? A silent wish? Perchance, were some visitors hoping that a small amount of greatness might rub off, be imparted? [Read more…]