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Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Walking in Love on the Fourth of July

The buzz of cicadas and the heat create a trance. Sitting out on the lawn outside Arlington National Cemetery with ten thousand others waiting for 4th of July fireworks to begin over the Washington Monument is surreal. Children arrive by the bus load, making their way down in single file lines to the lawn in the front of the slope gently moving towards the Potomac. Groups of friends spread picnic blankets celebrating the day with salads, cupcakes and laughter. Families meet other families and play cards waiting for the late afternoon heat to give way to nightfall. A few drops of rain begin to fall and I wonder if the deluge proceeded by huge winds which left downed tree limbs all over the Mall the day before will happen again as I wait for the fireworks to begin. The Lincoln Memorial rises out the the treetops with Washington right on top. I am not exactly in a direct line of sight down the Mall so the Capitol building is slightly to the right. It is an amazing sight, the grandeur of the Capitol of the Unites States. I heard the voices of many languages in my wanderings around the heart of DC. It touches me that others from far away come here and join us in the enjoyment of art, music, culture, parades, pomp and circumstance. I noticed here and there the red and yellow robes of the Tibetan monks beginning to appear in preparation for the Dalai Lama to arrive. They begin a many day gathering (Kalachakra) for world peace. Meanwhile helicopters circle low overhead every fifteen minutes as we wait to see the moment when the day yields to dusk and the monuments are illuminated. Here and there along the tree line off in the far distant city and suburbs the blooms of firework flowers begin to erupt. At one point the entire tree line supports the colorful display of our way of acknowledging this important date.

My day was a full immersion into the life at the heart of this city. I heard the Air Force Band rehearsing The Battle Hymn of the Republic with Jo Dee Messina for the evenings performance at the base of the Washington obelisk. A multicultural festival filled much of the mall. Sponsored by the Smithsonian, I was able to wander a 'village' recreated to take me to the country of Columbia and savor the richness of art, music and food. Taking a few steps I moved to Rhythm and Blues and a few steps more into a journey to Africa. What joy! Sobering reminders at the Holocaust Museum and lessons on looking for propaganda. I have to admit to a few odd thoughts of my own as I studied these lessons and wondered how or if Love could be spread in so widespread a manner as to 'take over' our lives.

One of my favorite things encountered after hearing a stirring reenactment of Thomas Jefferson and companions speaking the words from our Declaration of Independence on the steps of the National Archives was the tunnel of light connecting the east and west galleries of the National Museum. For me it is remembering. I wrote a message of love to the soldiers serving overseas adding my few words to the many of all who had walked through the security search in order to find a place to picnic while waiting to see the fireworks from the vantage point of the base of the Washington Monument.

When darkness fell and blooms finally appeared over the Obelisk I was reminded of a gigantic sparkler going off over and over in many  colors, shapes and forms. Hearts, smiley faces, golden and white glow held suspended by a magical technology I do not understand. Radiating again and again ephemeral light. Light that many are drawn to see, experience, celebrate and delight in. Light that causes friends, families, lovers and troops high up in the tower behind me to stop everything else in their lives in order to give full attention. Ahhhh.

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