22 October 2010

Vacation Blessings: Day 8

The Trip

In the morning, we trekked out to Manassas, where the first and second battles of Bull Run were waged. It was a fascinating site, but also a little bit depressing, as Civil War memorials tend to be. War is hell, as William Tecumseh Sherman famously said. And as hellish as it must be to kill humans of any nation or culture, it seems even sadder, somehow, for countrymen to line up against countrymen. The bayonet charges, the volleys of rifle balls, the cannon shells and sabers cutting through soft flesh -- every bit of the violence seems infinitely more monstrous when brothers perpetrate it on each other.

In the afternoon and evening, my old college friend's wife arrived, and we took my baby boy into the District so we could take his picture in front of famous buildings. We got the capitol, the supreme court, the Washington, Lincoln, and Jefferson edifices, and the Smithsonian.

At the end of it all, the boy was pretty tired, and so were we, so we returned home to have a nice rest and to look forward to the day ahead.

The Blessings

My Son. His face fairly glows with curiosity and happiness. He is so easily entertained, and yet also so eager for knowledge and achievements. He is full of limitless hope and easy joy. He is at peace in his father's arms; he doesn't know yet that there is anything I can't protect him from.

There's a lot I want to teach him, but he has even more to teach me, if I pay attention.

Peace. Yes, we have been at war with someone or another for roughly the past nine years. Yes, between Bush I and Bush II, we have been engaged in conflicts in Iraq for more years than we were engaged in the First and Second World Wars. And yet, I am not fighting against my brother. I have not been conscripted, and I pray my son won't be either. There are still things to be thankful for, and the wars haven't touched us very closely.

The Bible says peacemakers who sow in peace will reap a harvest of righteousness. I think one reason that is true is because we weren't made to war. It is an outgrowth of selfishness, of covetousness, of selfish ambition. In short, it is an outgrowth of ungratefulness for blessings and of rebellion toward the One who made us to live in peace.

I know there will be trouble in this world, especially for followers of Christ. But nonetheless, with St. Francis, I pray, "Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace." And I pray that the peace will be both political and personal, as people become reconciled with the One who designed them to love one another.

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