Wednesday, March 08, 2017

Lent: Preserve

We took the girls to Morristown back on Aug. 27, 2016, to see a few bits of American history. There is the Wick house and the Revolutionary war barracks at Jockey Hollow, for instance; and also there was this place, once the home of Elizabeth Schuyler and her husband, Alexander Hamilton, a couple fairly obscure historical figures of little importance and less fame.

Preservation is about keeping something of value around for later. That could be something like the fruit preserves they sell at the Baptist Haiti Mission in Fermathe, the wildlife preserves kept and maintained by the U.S. National Parks Department. Sometimes it's even ironic, like the Edmund Pettus Bridge, which deserves to be preserved not because Pettus is worth remembering, but because of the events of Bloody Sunday, and the triumph of dignity and civil rights over Pettus and his ideological heirs.

Preserving things takes work, sometimes hard work, and however worthy a cause it is, it eventually fails. The ancient Greeks once famously compiled a list of seven wonders. Of all these ancient things, only one remains intact.

We do what we can, and we preserve places and things of value. They remind us where we were, how far we've come and even the distance left to go; but in the end, preservation is just a shadow of what we've left behind and what is to come. A garden preserved for the ages is no Garden of Eden, and even the Garden of Eden from the beginning is nothing like the City of Eden at the back of the book.

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