25 August 2011

The Mourning Lamb

Gravestones become ubiquitous; I photograph them, transcribe them, look for connections between the names on them, and later I write about them and read about them; the image of the grave and the gravestone loses some of the stark emotional impact it has for others (this is doubly true for me since I work at a funeral home and spend large chunks of my off time with a volunteer canine team looking for the missing and most often dead).

I almost forget, sometimes, what it is I'm doing, and the reminders, when they come, are powerful.

For instance, I was flipping through some of my pictures from Sharp Cemetery just now, and came across this one, marking the grave of fourteen year old Ethan Jordan (d. 1889).

I'm struck by the lamb's pose and the emotion it conveys. Most of the lamb images I have seen on gravestones are soft and peaceful in their outlines but more formal in their poses; they are clearly resting lambs, but also clearly posed. Ethan's lamb, with its head hung low, appears to be mourning.

His epitaph also speaks of deeply felt grief.

Here lies the dearest bud
That e'er to man He giveth.
If thou wouldst know his
Present state,
Repent and seek the
Father in heaven.

(photography by dunerat)

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