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Traveling Beats

I missed posting an email last week! We were splitting logs in the backyard and packing for a trip to Tennessee, and I was too distracted to put together anything worth sending (though I considered simply sending a picture of water painted puppies).

We've been traveling this week and I've found sentence writing a bit more challenging. Apparently I do a lot of my thinking when I walk the dog, but we left the dog at home. 

It's been very nice to spend time with family in TN - last week in Franklin, this week in the Smoky Mountains. One of my chief complaints about Alaska is how far it is from family. Here in Tennessee, we've been enjoying warm temperatures (and my sister's pool) and also grocery shopping at stores well-stocked with so many of our favorite choices. It's been a year since we've been "outside" and we're thoroughly enjoying the access and opportunities that being on a road system offers. 

In our homeschool studies this past year, we took a deep dive into US History and so last week we took several tours of Civil War sites that played prominently in the Battle of Franklin. It was pretty weird standing in the Carter House as our tour guide described the battle. My boys - aged 17, 13, and their 10-year-old cousin - were not unlike those who died that day.

On Thursday afternoon I took the three boys over to the Carnton Plantation, which served as the field hospital during the Battle. After the tour we went out to the graveyard where the boys spent quite a bit of time walking the rows and studying the grave markers. Plot after plot after plot after plot. Grouped by state. Marked by a number and initials. Many simply marked "unknown." The cemetery also includes the much fancier gravestones of the Carnton Family, as well as the simple - mostly unmarked - stones of their slaves. 

It was a curious experience, standing out there amongst so many lives marked dead. Lives quite particular to a place and a time. 

I found myself thinking about relationships as I stood out there in the grave markers. Who loved this man? What did he imagine for his life and what did he hope? Did his mother know he died in this field?  

And the slave. Not dead in battle, but tied to the land nonetheless. The slave. Owned by the man who owned the land. There was often no etching on the stone for a slave, just a rock. To mark a life once lived. 

Also curious >> the morning after we visited the plantation, I was browsing through my sister's bookshelves (again) when I pulled a book of short stories off the shelf. As I flipped through the pages, I noticed a folded slip of notebook paper tucked in. I stopped to read the simple quote she'd pulled from the story: "each tombstone a promise that a life won't be forgotten."  

Synchronicity strikes again.

What is it to mark a life with a stone? To remember a life once lived? And what is it to live a life that will be someday be marked by a stone?

May it be to live into relationships characterized by love. 

Tombs are real, but they are not the most real thing.
- Nadia Bolz Weber (at Rachel Held Evan's funeral today)

Copyright © 2019 Jennifer Searls | Window Thinking, All rights reserved.

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