(Note: I have cropped this photo for privacy reasons.)
I took the original photo of this cropped version in August 2010 while in France doing research for my memorial book about a Lancaster bomber crew. I suppose the photo challenge ‘hope’ came at a good time. However, the challenge was not in taking the photograph this week but in finding a photograph in my large supply that really meant hope to me.
This tombstone, with the word Mizpah, has been niggling my brain for months. I have felt compelled to fit it into my book but was not sure where or how to fit it into the story. Ironically the photo challenge of ‘hope’ made me instantly think about Mizpah and my need to finally sit down and force myself to write a short chapter about this hope filled word.
Mizpah is a word that can be found in the Bible in Genesis 31:49. The word itself means ‘watchtower’ or ‘watchpost’. The chapter and verse state: “The Lord watch between me and thee when we are absent one from another”.
Mizpah jewellery became popular during the Victorian period when people began to travel long distances but it continued to be seen on both jewellery and tombstones through WWI and WWII. The word and its physical manifestation became a symbol of hope for a loved one’s safety while separated and the hope of their safe return. Sadly this was often not realised.
So why put it on a tombstone? Even death cannot separate the love felt by two people nor change the belief that they will one day be reunited. That hope remains.