Friday, December 28, 2007
Etched in Stone
I never expected to see my name etched in stone. It's the sort of thing usually reserved for the dead. Several fine examples in the south and the east cemeteries of Salem, Iowa attest to the HANNAH clan as people of substance, memorialized by large granite tombstones in grey and black. Our own name plate is much more modest, in actuality an address marker, given us for Christmas by J and A--a sandstone block weighing about twenty pounds, engraved with a sunflower and the word "Hannah's." Interestingly, it's shaped like the my native state, Iowa, even though it came from Pennsylvania. I like that connection. With the passing years I find increasing meaning and value in my Midwest origins, particularly in my family ties to the Quaker settlement of Salem--a Hebrew word meaning "peace." This small town of several hundred is where my mom grew up, and I have many fond memories of weeks of summer spent there with my two older brothers at grandma and grandpa Longs. A sagging barn filled with relics, a dank root cellar crammed with canning jars, bedrooms piled with old Grit newspapers, closets filled with wooden spools, discarded keys, and worn out toys--all these added up to a childhood sense of adventure and exploration. Nearby, a drainage ditch filled with 6-foot horseweeds gave us ready weapons for imaginary dueling and tilting, and grandpa's farm land gave us a place to roam free beyond the prying eyes of adults. These were the days of innocence that I value more each passing year--a time of shalom that I yearn for both in my life and in the life of all.