Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Friends' Final Resting Place

As most of you reading this blog probably already know, Philadelphia is the home of many Quakers, and has been since William Penn sailed across the ocean in the Welcome. Serendipitiously, I came across the graveyard where many of those Quakers are interred, Friends South-Western Burial Ground.

I'd been doing the whirlwind tour I mentioned earlier, and was driving through West Philly searching for Mt. Moriah. I suddenly saw on my left a sea of small white stones, all the same except for the names and dates, parallel to the ground. No ornate masoleums or tall monuments here.

(I would later find out that there were previously two Center City Quaker gravesites, one at 4th at Arch, and another at 16th and Race, where meeting houses are still located, but both were disinterred and moved to the South-Western site in the early 1900s. The South-Western site is located at 236 Powell Lane in Upper Darby, just over the county line from Philadelphia.)

Tom Keels had mentioned in his presentation a few weeks back that Quakers believed in very plain graves, none more elegant than the other. And it certainly makes sense in light of the Quaker philosophy of simplicity and practice of being more concerned with the inward than the outward.

There was something very profound in those humble, flat white rows. It's been said that death is the great equalizer. This graveyard is a poignant reminder of that.

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