“Sacred and Profane” is a documentary examining Rochester Cemetery, located on Cemetery Road, just off of Highway 38, just off of Interstate 80, just down the road from the Settlement of Rochester, in Rochester Township, Cedar County, Iowa.
This cemetery is, excepting the graves which date from the 1830s, a rare piece of never-plowed prairie and savanna , replete with wildflowers and grasses. Still in use as a cemetery – that is, burials there are ongoing – the land has engendered something of a controversy among those who wish to preserve the prairie and those who wish to preserve the graves. The cemetery has been documented here and the graves here. It is on facebook and listed on many natural areas websites and drawn attention from U Iowa’s CGRER.
My essay juxtaposes three viewpoints on the cemetery centered around the question of what it means to be a sacred space.