It has been a difficult week in Missouri. Even from across the state we've felt the waves of sorrow and pain radiating from Joplin. We've watched the skies all week, heard more sirens and prayed that no more lives would be lost.
I've thought of places. Places we've lived, places we've loved, places our families called home, places our families left - even fled. I've thought of what defines those places.
The lighthouse reaching out into our great lake or standing atop the rocky coast of our cape. The spires of colonial churches rising above the town. The brick townhomes. The clapboard farmhouses. Cherry blossoms, blue hydrangeas, daylilies. The ice cream stands we walked to after dinner - or our much loved St. Louis custard which requires a car trip. The cannons on beach still pointing out to the sound, still defending our shores more than 200 years after the minutemen raced down from their farms. The stone walls of Connecticut, the white fences of Cape Cod. A baseball stadium. A giant boulder left by a retreating glacier. A massive tree, up the path, with a rope swing waiting each summer. The drawbridges. The porches. The rivers running through the cities, towns and villages where we've lived. The mountains defining the views, the roads, even the lives. The sand dunes and grasses.
Some of these things will stand for centuries. Most will not.
Starina, the village where my great-grandmother was born, lies beneath the Starina Reservoir in Slovakia. A deliberate destruction for a presumed greater good. Some of the lands my family roamed in Tennessee lie beneath the Tennessee Valley Authority reservoirs. Rust belt and mill cities that sheltered my immigrant family have decayed, no longer industrial power houses. Tiny farm communities in the midwest have vanished, with only an old house, a barn, a silo marking where our ancestors lived and worked. Even those places that flourish have grown - often beyond recognition.
Such melancholy. Nothing is static. But I pray no more of our communities are blown to pieces this year.