I think democracy is like an old coat. Over time it becomes worn and frayed; stiches pull, but do not break. It is washed from time to time; gets beat up, thrown down, held up against the sun as we wrangle it across our shoulders. We button it to the very top — keeping out the dark cold, keeping us warm with our thoughts, keeping our empathy for one another safe within — away from the threats looking to intercede. It is a whole made of pieces.
Sometimes a break in the day needs us just about as much as we need that break. Deep breaths may slow down the heart rate, but a good story or memory is tonic for the soul.
Each of us walked away with our own personal connection to the river and to each other. We also, collectively, left as one after sharing time and place in a sanctuary of goodness. It was a good trip, a necessary journey, and one that I know will sustain us all through our lifetimes.
Your childhood memories are important. Write them down and share them with the family, especially children and grandchildren. Let that wonder float free like those lightening bugs we would patiently wait for on a warm summer’s evening. The sun sinking low, coolness settling in, and then a pop of light in the distance, then another, until it’s as if flashbulbs are going off at a birthday party. Surrounded now, their light seals our contagious smiles and wonder within a cocoon of memory to which — we have the key.
We all have known people that touched our life, if but for a moment, helping us become who we are today. And there are others we never had the chance to know. Yet, they too, silently, were there and are part of that big book we carry around today.
Though normal feels so far away right now, the distance between us today will bring us back together and make those handshakes and hugs feel that much more gratifying tomorrow. It will feel like sunlight on the face after a long, dark night.