Sunday, July 19, 2015

Flowers in the Wheatfield

This was originally posted on TG Forum.  It didn't get many hits there (half my usual)  so I'm seeing how it does here.

I really like how this came out.


Yesterday, (July 10) I traveled to the Gettysburg Battlefield with my roomie, Linda Lewis.  For those of you who don’t know history, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, was the site of the bloodiest battle of the US Civil War.  It was here that over 50,000 people died in a struggle to determine whether or not the USA would continue to enslave others, or if all Americans had equal rights under the law.  In many ways, this battle continues today.

Artillery on Culp's Hill

This was only Linda’s second time there, while I have been there dozens of times, usually alone.  I could write a book on the many reasons I return there again and again.  Is it the deep history of this place?  The fact that so many died here fighting for an idea… an idea that still powers our nation today?  Do I go to see the beautiful countryside?  All these and more.  When I lived in Baltimore, I was only a little over an hour away from the battlefield.  It was a short trip for a great time. 

Yesterday was gloriously sunny, and while humid, it wasn’t as bad as the previous days.  Climbing around the hills and rocks, I could only imagine what it was like for the soldiers, who did the same in similar weather, but wearing heavy wool uniforms and carrying all that weight of their gear.  The last time Linda and I were there, it was freezing cold and the high winds blew the snow from the fields into our faces.  This time, we concentrated on places that we hadn’t gone in our previous trip, but revisited some places.  We went to the Visitor’s Center, the “High Water mark,” climbed Big Round Top (easier without the ice, but still tough), and visited Culp’s Hill on the Union Right.  We also toured the Wheatfield and PeachOrchard.

The sun was setting.  Linda and I walked out across the Wheatfield to look at a marker in the middle.  Here, where we walked, 20, 444 men fought back and forth, and over six thousand were killed or wounded.  The ground was soaked in blood.  Now, it was a peaceful meadow guarded by stone monuments to those who had fought there. 

We were walking back to the car when something caught my attention.  Wildflowers.  Nothing out of place in a meadow, but here… here where so many died…
I thought about that.  And I took a picture of the flowers.  And I thought some more.  The flowers said so much about life. 

152 years ago, this field was covered by the bodies of those who had fought.  The ground was torn by shot and shell.  It would take years, but eventually it became a peaceful place again. 

Life can be cruel, as we all know.  Things happen to tear our lives apart.  Being trans does that on its own.  We suffer so many losses.  I lost my marriage.  I still mourn daily the loss of one of my dearest friends nearly two years ago.  These are still open wounds- wounds I know I will carry forever.  But... like this flower… perhaps someday in the scars of these wounds, something beautiful can arise.  It will take time, to be sure.  But time does heal.

The Flowers in the Wheatfield

These flowers are proof.  Families forgiving the man who slaughtered their relatives due only to hate is proof.  Maybe someday I can heal, and the ground that currently is injured will flower.

And maybe this is why I still go to places like Gettysburg: because the lessons they teach go beyond just history.  

1 comment:

  1. Gettysburg is truly a wonderful and moving place. It was hard for me to be there and not be overwhelmed with the sacrifice that so many made to preserve things that they held dear. There are so many moving historic places in this wonderful country but Gettysburg is one that needs to be experienced so that folks can put some real context to the wonderful words of Republican President Lincoln.