Vanderbilt was one of our stops on the Great Grad School Parade of 2015. Cornelius Vanderbilt is depicted in the sculpture above. He was seventy-nine years old when he contributed the funds that launched Vanderbilt University. The notation on the base of the statue said he died about four years after the school was established.
Vanderbilt was elderly as the school began to take form, but I couldn’t help but think how many landmarks I have seen that were dream projects built only shortly before the dreamer’s life ended. Many a dreamer died far too young.
What dream would you see to fruition even if it took all that you had? Would you still be willing to see that it came true if you knew you knew it would be your legacy rather than something for your personal enjoyment? What exactly do you hope to leave behind?
Too many people spend their energy building walls. So much effort is put into separating “us” from “them”. Race, lifestyle, religion, politics…each a brick piled one on the other until the wall finally keeps us apart, isolating us from the richness we could experience, robbing us of a deeper understanding of life. I am bone-tired of so many walls; oh, for the gift of a gate.
(A walk in Nashville, TN)
It snowed for an entire day. More than anything, I wanted to snap a photo that could catch the flakes as they fell from the sky–to suspend them in time and air.
But it was bitterly cold outside, and I lacked the courage to brave the elements.
So, I threw open the back door and stood just inside the mudroom shooting picture after picture wanting to lose myself in this quiet, hazy moment.
As healing as this snow day was to me, the sight of other houses reminded me that each home in town was experiencing this day it its own way.
I knew some of the kids I work with would find this day stressful. Families filled with anger and addiction would struggle being cooped up together in tight quarters all day.
Some would be counting the hours until this day that I found so beautiful would finally end.
Some would feel the walls closing in on them. And some would discover they could not take it.
Snow has great powers of insulation. On this snowy day I was safe, insulated from the pain of an unhealthy home.Being insulated doesn’t mean I can walk away, ignoring the pain of others. So, when I tucked in that night I sent up a prayer for all those who found this snowy day so hard. May they some day experience the carefree joy of catching a single flake of snow as it falls from the sky. May they understand that unlike the snow flake which has no say as to where it falls, we may not be able to control where we came from, but we can decide where we are willing to land.
The muse weeps atop the grave of Chopin while holding a broken lyre.
Frederic Chopin died in 1849 yet his grave is still visited every day. A crowd gathers bringing flowers and waiting in turn for the chance to snap a photo or two of the gravesite. One hundred sixty-four years have passed and still he is honored with remembrances.
As I stood in a cold drizzle, shoulder to shoulder with about a dozen other people looking at the grave and the flowers strewn around it, I began to consider my own life’s work. What a humbling experience to estimate the impact of my work in light of such greatness.
We can’t all be Chopin, but that is okay. As much as the world needs great musical talent, it needs other things as well. My impact will not be felt the world over, but I pray that it will be profound in the lives of the people I love. To be remembered well by the ones I love, that would be music to my ears.
The streets, sidewalks, courtyards outside residences and public buildings–cobblestones cover the ground in Paris everywhere you look. It seems as though they’ve been there forever; though they are worn, they never wear out. Curving, swirling or straight as a pin, one stone after another leads the way through this beautiful city.