Wednesday, October 19, 2016

A couple of thoughts from our trip with Abe....

So Ken and I took a little get away this week to our State Capitol - Springfield.  It is also the home of Abraham Lincoln and the site of his Presidential Library and Museum.  His tomb is also in a local cemetery along with many graves from the Civil War.  Because we decided to do this trip in October and in the middle of the week, the town was mostly deserted.  We started out our tour at the cemetery and his tomb.  We were the only people there.  It was kind of odd since that location is usually full of tour buses and school groups.  It was quiet and very solemn.  Walking inside the tomb is an experience and the statues that fill the halls are amazing.  I am extremely glad that we started our day there.  By the time we were leaving, the parking lot was filling up.  We decided to use the 80 degree weather to visit some of the botanic gardens in Springfield.  Once again, we were alone to wander the trails and see the beautiful flowers that are all still in bloom.  It was a wonderful spot to stop and rest and pray.  Just as I rounded a corner, I came upon this beautiful statue....
It was called "Angel of Hope".  This spot was dedicated to all who have lost an infant or child.  It was so peaceful.  I couldn't get over how fitting it was that stumbled onto this spot.  The words around the bottom of the statue say..."With Hope in her wing, let anyone who has felt the loss of a child find this place to mourn and heal".  I sat in this spot for a few minutes, remembering Lucas and feeling so thankful for the hope that Jesus has brought to our entire family during the last two years.  This was fitting with the 15th of October being a day of remembrance of infant loss, as well as Lucas' upcoming birthday.  

As Ken and I were leaving this garden, we happened to notice this on a pine tree near the parking area....
You could actually see the sap still dripping out of the cut off branch.  It was as if the tree was crying for the cut off branch!  All I could think about was all the tears that our family has poured out after losing Lucas.  It is true that the entire family has felt the pain of this little branch of our family that was cut off, why to soon.  What a fitting reminder from nature. 

After this garden we headed to Lake Springfield.  There is another nature reserve that is really just a wooded area with trails.  We took a trail toward the lake and ended up in this amazing spot...
There was a wonderful bench right on the trail.  I sat on that bench while Ken wandered off, taking lots and lots pictures.  This was my view from that spot.  There was a large flock of white pelicans on the lake and it was breathtaking to watch them take off.  They are BIG!  I loved the sound of the water lapping at the shoreline.  The wind was quite brisk, which was great for me (the breeze cooled me off) but not so good for Ken who was trying to focus on the leaves and plants that were swaying in the gusts of wind!  I thoroughly enjoyed the time spent in this spot.  

We walked around downtown Springfield and Ken took some really cool sunset pictures over the old State Capitol Building.  By the end of the evening we were quite glad to retreat to our hotel.  That spot by the Capitol was not such a great spot to be after dark.  

Today we visited more of the Lincoln spots.  We saw the house that the Lincoln family lived in for almost 20 years before moving to the White House.  Most of the furniture was reproductions since Abe and Mary sold all of their things before moving to Washington DC.  Mary never returned to Springfield to live after the funeral for Abe and her son (who had died in Washington DC).   We toured the Lincoln Museum and also the Old State Capitol.  We saw the Law Office where he began his career, and the depot that received his body when it returned home for burial.  

This was an interesting time to visit Springfield.  In the Museum there was an entire room that had floor to ceiling political cartoons that were actually in the newspapers when Lincoln was running for president.  Let me tell you, they were not nice!  There was obviously lots of "mud slinging" going on, even in 1860!  Ken and I were talking about just how interesting it was that Lincoln was a "dark Horse" kind of candidate.  Not an expected person to run.  Someone who did not have a great success rate when he DID run.  An unknown from the back woods.  Yet, after he was elected, he would change the face of the United States of America.  And this much loved president was greatly mourned after his assassination.  It is hard not to draw a comparison to what is happening right now in our election process.  At one point in that room with all those cartoons, they had an audio track running with actual quotes from people during that election process.  Some of the quotes I heard were...
"He is a bumbling idiot and should not be in the White House".  "He is a loud mouth oaf".  "He has no formal manners"   "He's not fit to represent the United States"     

I don't think I have to say anything else about this.  But you can imagine exactly what I was thinking listening to all of those things from 1860 and feeling like I might have just turned on my television to a local news station here in 2016.  I guess not much has changed in politics in 156 years!

What I have come away with from this trip is a renewed sense of hope for the United States and this election process.  Even during such a divided time as the civil war, we managed to find our way back into a unified nation.  I needed this reminder that God was in control in 1860 and Lincoln came into the White House.  And God is in control in 2016.  

I am so thankful for the times of peace and reflection that I had in the gardens of Springfield.  Because of that time, I was able to really see and experience all of this Lincoln history.  That was a terrible time for the United States.  And yet, here we are so blessed and so privileged, compared to so many around the world.   Yes, this was a great, short vacation.  It certainly helped me to refocus and remember that Jesus is Lord of Lords and King of Kings!  He's got me and my family.  And He's got the United States.  Time for me to relax and breathe out!

Jesus, thank you for times away from our routines that let us refocus and remember that YOU are in control!  What an amazing creator God you are that we can see your handiwork in the flowers and trees and birds that are all around us.  Holy Spirit, thank  you for providing exactly what we need, just when we need it!  Amen

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