“but I’ve reason to believe
we both will be received
In Paul Simon’s “Graceland,” the protagonist treks through the “cradle of the Civil War” accompanied by his young son, while taking stock of his own embattled heart and searching for some sort of redemption. It is a journey that looks both back through the past and ahead towards the future, seeking a kind of permanence in this mutable world.
So it was that song that was most with me as I made my way across rolling back roads in the early mid-Atlantic summer, my fourteen year-old son by my side in our rented federal blue Nissan, creased Triple A maps spread out across our laps. Our destination was various battlefields in small towns from Pennsylvania, through Maryland, and down to Virginia during the sesquicentennial of the American Civil War.
But as with even the most well planned trips, in the end I had arrived somewhere else entirely.
Along the way, there were sparking aircraft engines, missed connections, errant luggage, oppressively hot and sticky weather, wrong turns down indifferently marked southern turnpikes, endless miles of lush green landscapes, elusive fireflies in the evening gloom, an unlikely breakfast with a well-known actor in the front parlor of a small town inn, and a sleepless night attended, perhaps, by a restive ghost from some forgotten battle.
…We set off on life’s journeys expecting to find meaning, but in truth, the unexpected meanings set off to find us.
(To be continued…)