July 12, 2017Note: The seeds for this column were planted when the Moving Wall visited Imlay City in 1998. The seed has grown, and the wall's recent visit to Almont helped it rise.
The inky black surface—like a dark mirror, like black ice in the winter— sends me reeling.
Cold thoughts careen out of control as I stare at the face that stares back at me.
I am ashamed.
The face, my face, symmetrically balanced confirms that I'm a member of a so-called higher order, a human being, a species possessing incredible, unique and boundless capabilities.
The eyes mirror their remarkable, computer-like capacity to automatically refract shadow and light into something we call vision. Sight.
I see the face of a species that has been provided with, blessed with, gifted with an amazingly huge brain. Yet it is the face of one of a species that proves time and again its capability to employ only 10 percent of the gift.
I see the face of one of a species that knows violence is primitive, ugly, wrong. Even in the little 10 percent part, the face reflects its absolute knowledge that war is hell. Choking, I softly utter "welcome home."
Tears swell in the eyes and meditate on every single precious human life whose names rise like flickering candles to the dark, glassy surface of the wall.
The future generations trapped in those moments of terrible time, flash like little sparks as the sun illuminates the harsh reality that hundreds of thousands of souls are forever sealed in the stone. Children, grandchildren, generations held captive. Family trees with broken limbs.
The face reflects the desperate need for them to know they are deeply appreciated, acknowledged, loved.
A hot breeze kicks up some wind and flutters through the pots of flowers and flags that stand mutely guarding the wall. They've been there the entire time, but I only now notice them. I believe I almost hear a choir of whispers urging understanding and resolution. Urging all who pass by to make peace.
My heart feels as if it may burst. The reflection, transformed by loving gratitude, remembers that the face belongs to a species that has made strides toward the goal.
To build bridges, not walls. Especially not walls like this one. To realize we are all brothers and sisters in this human family. We are more alike that different, and when one is harmed, all are harmed.
The American face staring back at me is overwhelmed by the absolute selflessness of strangers and loved ones who suffered the horrors of war, and those who ultimately paid with their lives to ensure my freedom. My freedom to travel this beautiful country, to practice the religion of my choice—or not—and employ freedom of speech to write this column for a free press.
Stepping back, the black ice on the surface slowly melts. Light invades the dark shadows to reveal the faces that had the vision to create the wall so that we will never forget at what price comes liberty.
There are the faces of a community who stood together to honor and to heal, and to face the hard lesson with forgiveness, grace and respect. Reflecting evidence that there is hope. Hope that one day we will all realize that peace is necessary for our survival.
Peace of mind. Peace at home. Peace in interactions and relationships. Peace on earth.
Email Catherine at email@example.com.
Catherine Minolli is Managing Editor of the Tri-City Times. She began as a freelance writer with the Times in 1994. She enjoys the country life, including raising ducks and chickens.