Zen Spot #95 -- Mindfulness, meditation and cinder blocks in the doorway of a crack house February 18, 2018 00:05

Crooked violent tombstones in parallel

I often drive past a cemetery that hasn’t been cared for in decades— Mount Moriah cemetery  in Southwest Philadelphia. Half-dug holes populate the three-hundred-plus acres as if awaiting a body whose family was discovered indigent. Thorns strangle everything. Gangs and dealers regularly drop bodies at the edge of the mushy, ten-foot cliff that falls off into Cobbs Creek. Neighbors ignore the bodies from the safe side of trolley tracks that run along an iron fence line that seems to extend for a mile.

Graffiti and blood are paint. Tombstones have been smashed with cars and skulls. Gravesites erupt as if the dead are pushing up from underneath, like a filthy caricature of massive grassy blackheads. The gaping Romanesque brownstone gate at its entrance swallows visitors with a fetid mouth that is chipped like the whores’ teeth that crawl along Kingsessing Avenue.

Thieves, addicts and the homeless

I stop at the cemetery now and again. It makes me feels closer to my ancestors, none of whom are buried, but each of whom lived within a stone’s throw, watching the decay.

The sepulcher above, at one time, had a strong metal door frame, hardened glass and a bulletproof lock. Enough desperation was felt, at some point, for a human being to crowbar it open. Inside, addicts got high and passed out. Whores and kids had sex. Homeless men slept. Next to the dead.

Were I buried there, the saint and voyeur within me would welcome the crimes. That people slept next to my body to keep warm, and stay alive, would give me solace.

Of all the places I visit and sit, this is perhaps the most quiet and the most dangerous. Kids rove and rob. My maternal grandfather may, in fact, have been one of those kids, a long time ago. I am a giant, though. I’ve walked by the packs of wolves.

Unquiet in the quiet

It was late afternoon and, while I am a giant, as I sat down and pressed my back against the cinder blocks, I didn’t close my eyes. The thought of cinder blocks stealing the safety this home had offered desperate people who sought refuge triggered memories of a time when I was safe and many others weren’t. 

Just like right now. 

Mindfulness and compassion.


About DharmaMechanic

An artist, entrepreneur and writer walking the Buddhist path, his art focuses on the Dharma Wheel. The four wheels shown above are among over 600 DharmaMechanic has created over the course of his career. Each has a unique story. If you’d like to read the story of these wheels or purchase a framed 20" x 20" ready-to-hang print, visit SilkDharma.com.

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