Monday, January 28, 2019

A Beneficial Reminder When Touring Boston

In Boston at the Granary Burying Ground outside the nearly 200 year old Park Street Church, one can find the tombstones for Samuel Adams, John Hancock, Paul Revere and the victims of the Boston Massacre. Some of the graves even date as far back as the 1600s.

The fashion of the day was to decorate gravestones with grisly images of winged skulls, reflecting the Puritan consciousness that life was short and fleeting.

One of my favorite Boston epitaphs at the Granary belongs to Captain John Decoster, who died on January 28, 1773, at the age of 26. The inscription on the gravestone eerily drives home the point that life is indeed truly fleeting:

Stop here my friend and cast an eye

As you are now so once was I.

As I am now so you must be —

Prepare for death and follow me.

It reminds me of an epitaph one can find in any Orthodox monastery, and of the famous Orthodox saying:

When you die,

You will not die,

If you die,

Before you die.