Sunday, August 29, 2010

Inspiration! Disillusionment!

Yesterday (28 Aug 2010) I rode the bus up to Washington, DC, to participate in the Restoring Honor Rally. The bus unloaded at RFK Stadium. Three other women and I decided we would rather walk the distance to the Mall than stand in a line for the Metro. As Uncle Dale is reported to say frequently, “At least we were moving!”

Well, we made it, and only about 15 minutes late (which unfortunately had us miss all but the last strains of Sarah Palin’s remarks). All expectations for a huge crowd were realized. In fact, we were very near the Washington Monument and could barely see the Lincoln Memorial.

For a while, I sat with my new friends, trying to maneuver my red plastic purse under me against the ground damp. However, as much as I sit at my desk, I wasn’t finding sitting on the ground very comfortable. Besides, I couldn’t hear or even see the monitor, thanks in part to a group from Orange County who had thoughtlessly decided to stand right in front of a couple who had placed their chairs in that particular location long before O.C. arrived. I boldly (and probably foolishly) decided to go point out to them that the couple was having a hard time seeing through them, got a slightly sarcastic response as my reward, and decided at that point that I wanted to check out another neighborhood.

So I walked down to see if I could see more of what was going on closer to the center of action. Getting to the “center of action” would have been absolutely impossible. I’ll post some pictures so you might get an idea of what it was like.

Stood under a tree until the program was almost over. Then I walked back up to my friends. We decided we just weren’t up to another hike back to RFK. So we stood in the line for the Smithsonian Metro stop forever. I was beginning to regret seriously not having better prepared my water supplies. However, I am happy to report that we made it onto the train, off the train, to the stadium, and onto the bus.

That’s the front story. Here’s the “back”:

I’ve always figured that if necessary I’d walk to wherever Heavenly Father told us to go. With my trusty, comfortable tennis shoes swaddling my feet, I’d take off and go. Well, looking on a map this morning, I saw that the distance we walked yesterday should have been 3.43 miles. I say “should have been” because by following the other walkers, we somehow ended up on North Carolina Avenue. It appears that we got off track at Lincoln Park. My feet for a GPS!

But even with that diversion, we still probably totaled only around four miles. What did the pioneers do in a day? Fifteen? Around four times what we walked? Hm-m-m-m.

By the time we got back to the bus, I was wondering if I was going to need help getting up the five or so steps. My back hurt, my feet hurt, I was tired, my shoulders ached (not being accustomed to carrying anything but my organizer). I was thirsty and had already consumed the gift bottle of water proffered graciously by a fellow stander-in-line for the Metro who overheard me tell Johnie that I really needed some water. I wish I could tell him how much that meant to me.

I tried to knit on the bus on the way home. It was difficult finding even the energy for that. Sometimes I just leaned my head against the seat in front of me, wishing I could lie down, wishing my shoulders would stop hurting, wishing my trouble foot would ease up a little bit.

We finally made it back to the parking lot in Charlottesville where my sweet husband was waiting for me. He wanted to go out to eat. And I dutifully accompanied him. But as I shuffled wearily through the restaurant, I decided this was no longer the portrait of the stoic pioneer I had always imagined.

And I suddenly had more compassion—for those who remained in Nauvoo, even at the terrible price many of them eventually paid; for the brother who comes to church every Sunday in spite of the effects of childhood polio and advanced age; for the hidden adversities so many of our fellow travelers carry with them every day.

So what to make of this “revolting development,” as I think George Goebel* used to say. I suppose the first message would be that I need to get in shape. One of the women who walked with us appeared to be maybe even a decade or so older than I was, and she kept right in there with us—even carrying her folding chair. Maybe I should use her as my be able to make that walk again in ten years, and maybe even back (although she did say that she didn’t think she could have done the return trip).

As already mentioned, I need to have less optimism about my own performance and more compassion for that of others.

However, I think I need to be grateful to have made it at all—weakness, weariness, and woes aside. I’m grateful to have been able to go. I’m grateful that the rather cynical comment made by a policeman whom we passed on our way in as he was explaining what was happening (“Well, it’s been peaceful so far”) turned out to be nothing but skepticism on his part. I’ve never seen such a peaceful, accommodating group. I suspect even the slightly unpleasant incident with the O.C. group was uncharacteristic! The protest groups walked through the crowd and got nothing but a glance from the participants.

I’m grateful that so many people were there. I’m grateful that they may have heard (and maybe even felt) the message that I think was trying to be portrayed...that we as Americans need to clean up our own lives in order to merit the blessings of heaven so we can hopefully preserve our country. Another big message (from what I was able to hear) seemed to be that we can choose to focus on the scars of what has been wrong, or we can work to make it better in the future.

And to those who had their signs demeaning the efforts of the day, I feel sorry for you. You simply must not have been listening. I suspect you didn’t want to hear.

*For those of you under 50, he was a very funny comedian back in the stone age of television.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

How things change!

Two short months ago, our Sundays were hectically busy. We came home from church and helped feed, care for, and play with two young children. We made sure that their mother was also fed and cared for as much as she needed. Our single son would drop in and spend some time with his brother and whoever else was home (usually before heading off to take care of home responsibilities before the next day’s work). Oldest and youngest daughters were usually in some state of presence, the former usually out with friends, the younger usually asleep in preparation for her early morning shift at the airport.

Those busy Sabbath days, I would sometimes long for a little free time to work on my family history research. As my husband often says, be careful what you wish for as today it appears to have come to pass. Youngest son is at work. Youngest daughter is asleep. Oldest daughter is doing a short shift after an exciting day at church. Oldest son and wife were here when I got home. We had a nice lunch and visit before they also left for pre-Monday preparations. Husband will not be home for some time yet due to church responsibilities. Daughter, son-in-law, and grandchildren are missed every day, but especially today!

So I think I’ll go get a little snack before I begin my family history. Let’s see if I can connect with that crowd of family that is a little harder to see but may be even more engaged in my efforts than some of the living!