I guess I should say greetings from Reston, VA, since I actually haven’t been to DC yet this trip, and won’t until tomorrow. I think that’s a big discovery on this little fun/fact-finding mission; this is a big area, and a lot of people who live in the outlying areas don’t really go into the actual city very much.
Anyway, just a quick note because I feel that I should be blogging. Lots of emotion about the Zimmerman trial on the social webs today; I’m not tackling that in this space right now.
Instead, it’s time for a little sharing of parallels. I just finished a wonderful book called The Forest Lover, which was recommended to me by a friend in one of those awesome “what are you reading?” facebook moments. I’ve found myself wanting to read books about women these days; not women searching for husbands or boyfriends, but women searching for other things like inspiration, passion and identity. Because, let’s face it, I’m one of them.
So The Forest Lover appealed from that level, and it didn’t disappoint. It’s a fictionalized version of painter Emily Carr’s life, and it’s hard to put down. I resonated with this version of Emily because of her search for truth in art, her chronic single-dom and her fierce belief that the spirit of God is present in nature, just waiting for us to find a way to share it.
One of the book’s most interesting characters is a native Canadian woman named Sophie. Sophie is a basket-weaver, a Squamish “Indian” and a Christian, and she loses 9 children in the book (in real life, she lost 21). Note I said Christian; one of the book’s tensions is that the missionaries are doing their best to stamp out native culture and the Indians’ “heathen” nature. So Sophie becomes obsessed with wanting to buy Christian headstones for her dead children. She goes to astonishing and heartbreaking lengths to do so.
It strikes me as interesting that while reading this book, I found myself in a sea of headstones, most Christian, at Arlington National Cemetery. I don’t have more words to enlighten the parallel, so I hope you enjoy a few of my photos and thoughts.
The cemetery is a pretty, peaceful place. I tried to feel appropriately creeped out by being surrounded by so many buried bodies, but I couldn’t. I’m not sure what that says about me.
The ruthless understatement of Bobby Kennedy’s grave is pretty stark. This is a lousy photo, so I didn’t bother to edit it.
I caught a wreath laying ceremony at the always humbling Tomb of The Unknowns. The wreath was from the Republic of Iraq. A bugler played taps. It was pretty moving.
All over the cemetery, these “other side” engravings exist. Some are for sons, but most are for wives. From the first moment I saw one, back in high school when I visited, I’ve felt slightly appalled that the women buried there are reduced to a name, an initial, and “his wife.” I’m older now, and I can understand that it’s a great honor to buried in this place, but a part of me still bristles, whether it should or not.