Cemetery – Pantheon

85… The moment has arrived and we are there…

Amongst the graves as the service begins, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.  Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

Away from the burial service the cemetery is quiet as the dead rest in peace.

Patinas of passing time, an unavoidable ornamentation, take over the graves. Here, across the way, a new body has arrived. From this point on they will always be here. At any time they will be available for visits as their great-grand children become great-grand parents.

Priests and service in graveyard, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.  Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

The new grave joins others that have been here for a long time.

It is another day in the graveyard. Not just another day… but another day. It has been this way since 1794 when this plot of land was deemed the municipal cemetery.

Services at held in the graveyard, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico. Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

Words are spoken, the moment is being accepted, a journey ends.

The priest in a baseball cap performs in an ancient tongue a ritual that goes back thousands of years. No one needs to understand the words being spoken. The need for these words to be spoken is what is understood. It is hard for most in attendance to hear anything but the thoughts swirling in their minds and pulsing with each heart beat.

Paying final respect, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.  Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

Reaching out to touch a departed spirit for one last time.

And they are gone… the last look says so… the last touch confirms… this is a tender moment… this is life… and life leads to one place, death, and here we are this morning…

A beam is laid across the casket's top, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.  Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

The service has ended and a beam is placed on top of the casket.

Folks had come from far and wide to attend the services. One can see the deceased’s connections and social standing by attending the graveyard service. For some it is a throng with paid assistants and sub-contractors. For other it is a few friends and, or, family that volunteer to dig the grave and offer their regards in quiet prayer. For the dead the ride is much the same.

Bricks are laid over the casket, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.  Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

All watch silently as the men placed bricks over the casket.

Each brick adds to the finality. For the living this is an opportunity to come together with friends and family. With the passing of a love one they see their own tribe standing shoulder to shoulder. The moment goes beyond the dead and becomes the living, In a way they have come to say that they are alive, “we are here”.

Bricks are placed on top of the beam lowered onto the casket, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.  Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

Soon the grave will be covered by flowers and touched by the winds.

And soon the mourners will go their separate ways. They were united once again by the passing of one of their own. They had stopped what they were doing and made the time and way to come together, once again, as one.

Flowers on a fresh grave, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico. Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

After all have taken their leave flowers remain in a temporary respect.

From dust to dust, the world goes on, today becomes another footnote in the wind. The flowers will wilt and dry away under a tropical sun. At some graves there will always be fresh flowers until the day no one is left to bring flowers.

Looking at the cemetery from Mirador, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.  Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

After all these years there is still available ground for graves in the cemetery.

Graveyards are a special place: they are public art, they are public history and they are markers of their own civilization. And another day begins… and somewhere out there someone is dying and somewhere near here someone is being born. In the end it is all about this precious balance we call life.

13 … A place where the Living and Dead and Memories converge…

Crows and Crosses in Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.  Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

Can you find the black crows spending their morning perched on crosses?

Existence in the Pantheon, Cemetery, is a many layered thing. November 2, the Day of the Dead, is one of these moments as relatives bearing flowers light candles at their departed’s grave sites. Some of the surnames etched and painted are Almada, Urrea, Salido, Salazar, Ortega, Lopez, Zayas, Ibarra, Santoyo, Palomares, Lara, Acosta and…

Granite tombstone in Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.  Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

Touring the Graveyard is an art experience as a variety of religious icons are repeated in many variations and materials.s.

And the names keep coming: Rosas, Parra, Valenzuela, Esquer, Boors, Ramos, Garcia, Robles, Campoy, Zavala… The earliest dated grave I found was for Antonio Alamada – 8 de Octubre, 1786.

Tarnished metal Jesus, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.  Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

This tarnished Jesus stands as a gatekeeper to the eternal blue skies above.

There was the day I listened from across the graveyard to the piercing wails of a woman and sister who had lost their grown son and brother. And there are the sounds of birds and dogs as countryside meets town, past meets present and the future is there for all to see.

A mourning mother’s deep wails, crows cawing – perched on white crosses…
It is a warm spring day as we explore the “Pantheon” – (Cemetery) on the road to the Sierra Madres, minutes east of the Colonial Center. The ages speak here. Be it ancient mountain sounds or human voices, mourning and celebrating since 1794. All is timeless, and all thoughts are a point on our circle of life.

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