I’ve been interested in green cemetaries — burial grounds that are designed for maximum environmental friendliness, where no embalming or non-biodegradable casket materials are used — for some time now. Given this, I am just pleased beyond measure that the monks of the Monastery of the Holy Spirit is setting aside a portion of their community land for a non-sectarian green cemetary. Trappists have always buried their dead with the simplest of practices: using either a simple pine casket, or no casket at all — just a burial shroud — as the un-embalmed body is lowered into the earth, without a vault. As I see it, such environmentally-low-impact burial practices represent not only deep friendship with the earth, but also a trusting, non-fearful approach to the mystery of death itself. Since death is a natural part of life, shouldn’t our burial practices likewise be as natural as possible?
So a “green” or “ecological” cemetary for people who aren’t monks will soon be established on the monastery grounds. The cemetary will be called “Honey Creek Woodlands” (the monastery land was originally called the Honey Creek Plantation, named for the creek that winds its way through the grounds). As part of the cemetary’s commitment to environmental sustainability, the grounds will be restored to the native habitat of this region. As described in the most recent issue of the monastery newsletter, “The finished natural burial grounds will look like beautiful woods with a few gentle paths going through it. Markers, if chosen, are made of flat native stone.”
If you want to learn more about green cemetaries or sign up to keep informed about the opportunities to purchase burials at Honey Creek Woodlands, visit their website: www.honeycreekwoodlands.com.