I visited the catacombs today just outside of the Roman metropolis. I expected it to be creepy and a morbid part of me was excited to see some skeletons and shrouds.
However, what I ended up finding: rows upon rows of empty tombs (the bodies in the areas open to tourists have been relocated) and frescos depicting the hope of eternal life and resurrection in Christ. It was as if, through these empty tombs, I was glimpsing a preview of a future freedom from death, which, in a place built to hold dead bodies, seemed ironic. So, as usual, I wrote some poetry to help me process this idea and truly experience through expression what I saw today.
Please read and consider the following; though free verse, I wrote with both intentionality and emotion.
“Beginning in the End”
Dark and cold and lonely,
Left in the grave- untimely.
Memories dancing before eyes
Blinded to the present,
Blurred in remembrance.
Had she ever seen at all?
Not many years:
Ten and seven
Yet few images felt recent, felt real.
But now, though, was surely real;
This cold and dark and lonely.
Shivering spine on harsh-hewn stone;
Shroud too thin a shawl,
The damp came next, trickled down
Baptism, immersing all.
By this her soul was stirred
In that dark and cold and lonely.
Something moved divinely
And a prayer fell up from under.
A prayer said at bedtimes past,
And sweeter now in this last.
The words lifted her, warmed her.
Their promise burned within her heart…
Her stilled heart.
No longer beating with blood but hope.
Then died the cold and dark and lonely
As she fell asleep, finally.
Yet sight renewed in bursting light
A shock of air she’d felt before…
Not many years ago.
Yet this was something far, far more.
No cold nor dark nor lonely
But glorious radiance only;
For a Christian tomb proves but a womb,
And death as life’s true dawning.