Standing at the Lincoln Memorial it was a little daunting to look at all of the steps that lead to the top, or down from the to sidewalk. Built into the elevation is the occasional plateau or landing. It works with the symmetry and the effect is nice. The view of the reflecting pool is awe inspiring and fills your mind with the history of the place and all that has been a part of the site.
While pondering this I did a little reflecting on my own, and here is an item for consideration. Entropy is what makes our muscles sag and our cars rust. It is what makes mountains into plains and planes into scrap. Entropy is what keeps friendships difficult, because you cannot ignore them, or they deteriorate into rubbish. Like a set of stairs, the friendship can seem a little daunting at times and it is so much easier to keep going to the next step down. Like the Lincoln stairs, you can even stay on one step and walk along the breadth and not move up or down and still be moving. Then entropy comes again. Like an out of place glace or a sharp edged, cutting comment or pointed jab from an otherwise safe place, so you step down a step or two. And then there are the landings that give you room to wander and move. Not up or down, but both wide and long, and seemingly safe from the prod or the poke or the cut. It is an illusion you know, because you can look back up the steps and you know how far down that you have moved. You might even be a bit surprised at how far it really is, or perhaps each step is remembered, by each jab that moved you. When it happened and who poked. Where you were is just that, where you were. Not where you are. Perhaps there have been several landings since the beginning, and you did like the view so much better on the top of the hill. And here you are. At another step or on a lower landing, and it feels like a stick is near and so is the edge of the step. The trouble is that you have awakened to the process now and you see the actions and the effects, and the reality of the repetition and the result is all to familiar.
It could be the Lotto. Or the liquor. Maybe, it is just the needy friend that complains about everything. Or, the nosy neighbor that is always copying your latest landscaping ideas, it simply becomes irksome. Like the new pants shredded by the dog, you knew that it might happen again, but you had hoped for better. But here you are. With the shredded pants and broken hope and you step down to the next one down. Or is it a tumble down several and you got taken by surprise when it is your child on TV in the wreck or your business that caught fire, or the serving of papers by the sheriff. Not only were there several steps, lots of bumps and tumbles, but what was is no longer. Familiar is replaced with a new normal that is far from the last normal. And the view is different down here by a very long way.
So now what? What is the method of moving up to get a better view? Will that be the same as it was? Hardly. You cannot un-know a smell or a sight or a fear. The bruises will heal or be covered but the things you experienced will never go away. The memories will always be able to be brought back. Sometimes unexpectedly, sometimes like a light in the dark, but they come.
So then, how to climb the stairs again? What is it that moves the relationship back up the hill and fights against the natural order of things and the normal course of events? Is there a support or a crutch or an easier path to trod? The answer is both yes and no. Nothing will remove the sights and the smells of the trip to where you are. So, what then is the action? Forgiveness. It sounds trite but let me explain. It is the only way to unload the encumbrances of the burden that you carry. Forgiveness is for you.
Is it easy, quick, effective every time? Well, since you cannot control the response of the one that you forgive, all you can do is build the drawbridge from your side and let it down gently. Forgiveness will bring you back to the top, past each step that you went down, and across each landing that you lingered on. Do you need the one you forgive to return the favor? That is not forgiveness and it will keep you on “that” step until you realize it. You can do this on your own, and go around the prod holders and comment wielders, and climb the stairs again, without them. When you look around, the group will have changed, but then again so have you. They may be ones that climbed the stairs for the first time or ones that start fresh from the top, having arrived a different way than you came. You are all there, at the place of redemption, hope and renewal at least to get to the landing you are on. You are a different person for the steps you went down, and the forgiveness needed to climb again, but you are. Symbolic in ways, real in others, you are in the state of becoming. The idea that everyone is there with you is not the same as everyone is at the same place. Those that came up after their long trip down are not the same as those that climbed having never been to the top before. And of those that have not yet experienced entropy?
It is only by a topic that we are talking. I have not walked the path that brought them to the feet of Lincoln. Having stood at the feet of the oversized statue it is impressive. To stand near one that has climbed the steps is to be near the one with a story. A story of bondage to a hurt. A violation that has been, or perhaps is still yet unresolved. While you can get to the Lincoln Memorial without the steps, the tale is told differently for that journey. To have not suffered is a story as well, told by the fresh and unspoiled. Be gentle with them as well. They will understand entropy soon enough.
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