In Sweet Company

“I believe there is an evolutionary movement towards love in the universe, a self-organizing process around love that’s moving us toward what we call higher levels of consciousness.” — Riane Eisler, IN SWEET COMPANY: CONVERSATIONS WITH EXTRAORDINARY WOMEN ABOUT LIVING A SPIRITUAL LIFE

Many years ago, my soon-to-be husband took me to Philadelphia to meet his family and childhood friends. I’d never been to Philadelphia before, but as every 10 th grade civics student knows, the city is home to its share of famous men and events that must memorized in order to pass a final exam. Though I am not, by nature, a political person, I am patriotic. And so it was that I looked forward to my visit, to seeing the historic places I’d committed to memory as a young girl.

We went first to Independence Hall, the site of the signing of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, home of the Second Continental Congress. George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams had paced the floors I now walked in a decided effort to “form a more perfect Union.”  I wandered from room to room, surprisingly awestruck, in the almost tangible presence of their persistence, their intelligence, their loyalty. Why hadn’t my civics teacher told me they were like this? I had not expected to feel I was on holy ground.

The other thing that took me by surprise was the Liberty Bell, its dark earthy color, its  heft, its infamous crack exposed like a wound, a national wound, that had yet to heal. Though it was cordoned off by a thick velvet rope, though a sign asked visitors not to touch the bell, I covertly ran my fingers along its surface and the rugged interior of the fissure. I can still feel its rough hewn edges, the dry, protective crust growing atop the wound. I remember feeling sad.

I think about that visit now in these days of divisiveness and disharmony — an era of reinvention not unlike the days those great men debated the look and feel of my country. Though our enemies and our wounds be different,  our struggle continues exactly because above all else, at our core, “we hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights.”

It’s taking us longer than we expected to get it right. As it is in the lives of every American, so it is in the life of our nation. But we continue on until we do get it right. Until the Greater Good, a “perfect union” prevails. It’s the American way.

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