Sunday, August 2, 2020

Serenity in GREEN-WOOD CEMETERY: By Polly Guerin

Serenity in a Cemetery? You may have reason to consider that question, but let me remind you
that within the wrought iron walls of American cemeteries, beneath the oak trees and glorious tombs here you will find a sacred space to escape the cacophony of the city. 
       
Tranquility Garden Koi Pond Green-Wood
While some people came, as the earliest did, to honor the deceased, individuals of the still-
breathing sort gathered in the cool comfort of a cemetery, to rest, read and even picnic in peace. During the 19th century and especially in its later years, snacking in cemeteries, beneath the shade of oak trees and tombs happened across the United States. Since many of the towns lacked proper recreational areas, many people even had full-blown picnics in their local cemeteries. The tombstone laden fields were the closet thing, then, to modern day public parks. Of special note, Green-Wood's popularity helped to inspire the creation of public parks, including New York City's Central  and Prospect parks.
        Like the Victorians, though picnics are not encouraged, today we can find sanctuary in a cemetery for these places  offer sacred spaces where one can find serene serenity and only the gentle wind will caress your face. Although I am writing about Green-Wood Cemetery, just about any park-like cemetery with magnificent ancient trees, winding paths and  wild flowers might be more convenientbecause Green-Wood Cemetery is located in Brooklyn, New York. 
       Wherever your destination for contemplation or meditation, I suggest that like any other outdoor excursion, that you bring a bottle of water.  In some instances you may find a bench which may at one time welcomed the bereaved and now may serve to accommodate your visit. So sit down and center yourself and release the cares of the day that  are shouldering your thoughts and weighting you down. Breathe in the clean un-polluted air and clear your mind for a refreshing meditation that releases you from the mind wrenching grip of the city.             
Green-Wood Cemetery Winding Path
There is no more peaceful place than a cemetery and Green-Wood with its 478 spectacular 
acres of hills, valleys, glacial ponds and winding paths provide one of the most  sacred and serene areas in which to sit down and contemplate, restore one's
equilibrium and emerge refreshed and inspired. 
         And you will be in good company, too. Among the permanent notables are baseball legends, politicians, artists, entertainers and inventors.  Leonard Bernstein. Louis Comfort Tiffany, whose stained glass adorns many tombs, the artist Jean-Michel Basquiat rests there as do many other celebrities of stage and screen and prominent families including the Roosevelts.
        Green-Wood's spectacular acres of hills, valleys, glacial ponds and paths presents four seasons of beauty from century and a half old trees and the largest outdoor collections of 19th and 20th-century statuary and mausoleums.
        You will be in good company among the  permanent residents who will not disturb your
privacy or deep thinking meditation.     
Fort Hamilton Gatehouse Green-Wood
Although the focus of this feature is Green-Wood with its sacred spaces there is first time news that is rather exciting. Over its nearly two-century history Green-Wood has served as inspiration for countless artists--from musicians, to poets, to painters.  Quite recently they announced their first ever
ARTIST-in-RESIDENCE PROGRAM. One artist will have the opportunity to create in Green-Wo0d's Fort Hamilton Gatehouse, using Green-Wood's landmarked cemetery as their muse.
       Applications remain open through September 2. 2020.  It's an extraordinary opportunity for emerging or mid-career artists in the visual or performing arts. The nine-month residency will run from January through September2021.  The selected artist will be provided with a $7,500 honorarium, a private studio space in the Gatehouse, and access to the cemetery's professional staff and archives, and historical collections. For further information please contact: artistinresidence@green-wood.com. 
      In conclusion: Green-Wood Cemetery is located at 500 25th St., Brooklyn, NY 11232, www.green-wood.com. It is a NYC National Landmark and is listed in the National
Registry of Historic Places
         

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