I have a special place in my heart for vulnerable communities that sit precariously above the water- the atoll nations of the Maldives, the Marshall Islands, Tuvalu, and Kiribati, in particular. But seeing my first atoll-nation grave-sites today made an emotional impression that I will not soon forget.
The graves are a part of this landscape in an integral and even informal way- wedged in between homes, steps away from the ocean (by necessity- this describes most of the land here), children bouncing from headstone to headstone giggling. The average height of the Marshall Islands is just single-digit feet above the water, but these graves are (of course) even lower- even more vulnerable. The sites are lovely and striking- but I wonder what the standing groundwater, the rising tides, the coastal erosion, and the threat of submersion means for these graves and for those that still remember and love those that are buried within. Just one part of this gorgeous, threatened landscape that is under threat- but a significant one.