Thursday, November 25, 2010

Because I Have been Given Much....

As I have reflected today over the events of this last week and the affect it has had on me.  I look at how blessed I have been with coming here and with the many opportunities I have had to meet so many wonderful people and see so many amazing things.  Life is truly about experiencing things.  It's what adds flavor to life.

I was given the opportunity today to visit Mirogoj the main and I think probably the biggest cemetery in Zagreb.  It was a very peaceful place.  Unlike the cemeteries in the US it is paved rather than filled with grass.  The graves usually consist of a vault that is used more for the family than for one person.

Here at this cemetery people are buried either in the free standing graves in the grounds or in the long wall-like arcades.

The funerary process starts out in a separate building across the street where the viewing is held and the family can come to pay their respects and leave mementos and flowers.  Then the procession walks across the street to the small crkva (chapel) located in between the two arms of the arcade.  There the actual funeral is held.  Mourners may then proceed to the final resting place of the body.

The art on many of the graves is quite breath taking.  On many of the graves in the arcade there are iron lanterns placed on either side of the grave (Marina's father said they were just the trend of the day as decoration, that they do not hold any special meaning or symbolism).

One can purchase colored lanterns with candles inside to either place into the iron ones or to put them onto the graves themselves.

It felt very fresh and green there with all of the moss growing on the pavement and in some cases the graves themselves.  I thought it would have been a wonderful place to walk and think.  I joked that the foggy weather we were having today was perfect for visiting, as it lent an air of mystery to the place.

There are actually many famous people buried here.  I got to see the grave of the first president of Croatia, of Marina's old pediatrician, a professor her dad had in university, Drazen Petrović (a famous NBA star), and an original care taker of the cemetery itself.

There are even monuments for unknown communist people and a war memorial.  Marina's dad showed me that usually a person's grave was designated as being communist with a star instead of the usual cross.  It was very interesting to go and see.

I was given the unique experience of having a turkey grown and slain just for my Thanksgiving lunch.  Grown by Marina's aunt in the country, it was honestly the most delicious flavored meat for a turkey that I had ever had.  Marina's parents even had an aperitif and toast before the meal (though my glass was only filled with water) which made it feel very special.

Later on I was also able to attend the ward Thanksgiving Activity.  It was very nice, and I was able to get to know the members of the branch better.  Some of them expressed the wish that I was staying longer than Wednesday, and I will admit that part of me wishes I was.  I will miss it here.

It has been a full day.  Mostly filled with good cheer and self reflection.  It was a good day.

Happy Thanksgiving!


PS I apologize for the photos, I forgot my camera when we left for the cemetery this morning and had to take the photos with my iPhone.

No comments: