Thursday, November 21, 2013

Looking East

Looking around in any old cemetery, you will notice that all the graves are positioned so that the feet of the body is facing east. Fortunately, you can't see the body beneath the ground, but if you could, odds are it would be face up.
The tradition of burying bodies in this position comes from Christianity.  The star that appeared before the greatest event on  Earth was in the east.  Those that die with the hope of resurrection want to be looking eastward when Jesus splits the sky.
  For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.  ~Matthew 24:27

Before the days of bulldozers and perfectly landscaped cemeteries, people sometimes encountered obstacles that made it impossible for graves to be in the typical east-west position. When this happened, the grave would be dug in a north-south position, and the body would be laid on its side, head to the north and facing east.
Rarely can these graves be found facing true east, but are off several degrees.  This might have happened because the people who started the cemetery looked directly at the position of the sunrise, which shifts a few degrees according to the position of the Earth at different seasons.  I don't think this will matter at all to the bones waiting; they will be able to see the Light when He comes.  Even those buried facing the south won't miss a thing.

In this America, this wilderness
Where the axe echoes with a lonely sound,
The generations labor to possess
And grave by grave we civilize the ground.
~Louis Simpson