[Fragment, Tingley Fountain, Louisville, KY]
Sunday, overpowered by “despair at the world”* and yearning for quiet and beauty and solitude, I walked to Cave Hill Cemetery—where Muhammad Ali had been buried two days before. And what better place to silently hold in the Light the Orlando victims and their families and the LGBT community and my delusional country than beneath an ancient tree.
So I did. I sat beneath many such trees. And found comfort in both their bounteous shade (it was a tropically hot) and, unlike Berry’s wild peace, to discover unexpected joy in each tree’s scripted, humanly designed, eye-pleasing placement. Such man-made beauty allowed me to acknowledge “that of God in everyone.” What a gift!
Of course, given that the Louisville cemetery had just become the final resting place for one of the world’s most famous people, its 296 acres pulsed with energy as car after car, from shiny, tinted-glass SUVs to beat-up wheezers, drove up and down winding, tree-lined roads to pay their respects. And when I was finally ready to once again be in community, I joined the throngs.
Muhammad Ali’s remains are buried on the side of a steep, shaded hill overlooking the cemetery’s scattering gardens and a small lake, once the site of a natural spring, which now boosts an ever-gushing fountain. So if you wish to make a pilgrimage to that extraordinary man’s burial location you can, after visiting the site, walk down the hill to sit on a bench—and be comforted by the healing sound of water.
*The Peace of Wild Things
BY WENDELL BERRY
When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.