The gravel crunched beneath our shoes. A chill wind swept down from the mountain rustling the leaves of autumn yellow birch and aspen. The graveyard was silent.
Dominating the landscape was the Stave Church. Dark, tar stained wood pierced the aching blue sky and lent austere serenity to the whole. All paths led to its darkened walls and there was a sense that it stood as both greeter and guardian for those resting all around. Rounding the corner of the enormous building we marvelled at the gravestones some of which were several hundred years old.
The stones were worn almost smooth by wind and weather. Their cursive inscriptions nearly vanished from their face. You might make out a word or a number here or there. Fine green and yellowing lichens grew where letters had once stood in solemn tribute to lives lived.
The wind kissed our cheeks lending them a rosy tint as we knelt to examine a particularly ancient stone. Reverently I traced the name of a woman and her date of birth in the 1600s. So much history, so many lives remembered here in this place, resting forever in the shadow of that great spire of darkened, tar stained wood.
A large lilac tree grew over two of the graves a testament to the age and memory of this place. A shady companion to those resting beneath its once fragrant bows now barren of blossoms in the face of coming winter.
As we turned to leave I ran my eyes along the spire. It reached toward the achingly blue sky, a stairway for those departed. Casting dreams, and hopes to the stars it stood as guardian and testament to the eternal slumber of those who’d come before.