Flashback Friday, Episode 27 - Remembering Those Who Have Died
The idea of community is something we take seriously at Easton Mountain. This concept includes both our residential community and the extended community of those who consider Easton a second home. Our mission statement begins: “Easton Mountain is a community, retreat center and sanctuary created by gay men as a gift to the world.” One of the traditional functions of community is to hold the memory of those who have died. Sometimes this is done by having a place for their physical remains. All over the country, mostly in rural areas and small towns, there are countless churches with cemeteries on adjoining land, a testament to the need of communities to preserve the memories of those whose no longer present and to have a quiet place to reflect on the past and perhaps to sense the presence of those they have loved who are gone.
Sunfire’s mother died in the year 2000. For several years he kept the box with her ashes on his personal altar. In 2002, he discussed with John Stasio the idea of having a memorial garden at Easton Mountain where his mother's ashes could be interred. The logical place was the family cemetery established by the Harrington family, who were early settlers who came to Easton from Massachusetts shortly after the American Revolution. We held a brief ceremony in which the box containing his mothers ashes, wrapped in a Tibetan prayer shawl, was buried near the grave of Mary Harrington.
Since that time we have had other occasions to have rituals of memorial - two where community members scattering ashes of men who were close to them and one where we planted an ornamental fern in memory of Peter Kenny, the first secretary of Easton Mountain, Inc.
Later, Harry Faddis had the idea of creating a more formal setting for remembering those who have gone before us, including a columbarium, which is a repository for the ashes of deceased persons. The artist and community member, Moss Tidd, agreed to create an altar to the ancestors with an repository for cremains.
This was dedicated in 2010.
Our attention to the memorial function of community has become more formalized. We now have memorial stones in the garden. A few are like those found in conventional cemeteries, but most are naturally rounded stones with just the names engraved.
In 2013 we had a memorial service and interment of ashes in the columbarium for Michael Levac, who had died the previous year. Bob Findle is another person who has a stone in the memorial garden. He was known to many as the owner of the Body Electric School, and as such committed to the spiritual welfare of gay men everywhere.
As our community grows, by the law of averages we will have more memorials that serve the needs of families and friends of those who have passed on. All of this is part of the richness of love and friendship that makes Easton Mountain what it is.