Rise above this broken earth
Fractured and shattered.
The craft moves upward
Away from anger, pain and protest
Grief, and forgetting, my mother’s disease.
Pulled into the greys of heaven
clouds and mist and vapor.
Behind it trails the dawn
The beginning of a new day
The gradual warming of earth’s tent
From greys to pinks to orange.
We soar along horizon’s line
Away from dawn, westward
from here the daunting now appears
Land recedes, gives way to gulf waters
The blue of waters reflect the blue of skies above
A layer of mist hovering between
Above the blue
As if a heavenly artist took one stroke
One brush of his hand
half a heart
In vapor, in white on a blue canvas sea.
Or is the remnant of a broken heart? Half empty from grief and pain and sorrow?
The half heart remains floating above the gulf waters. A message in the sky.
The remaining journey attempts to answer that question.
Or broken hearted?
He who thinks half-heartedly will not believe in God; but he who really thinks has to believe in God. Issac Newton
On this journey across the country I see the remnants, the attempts for us to be like God, constructing our own universe, power, the windmills the towns laid out in perfect grids, the farmland, from the sky, perfect circles. The network of connection of roads and highways sometimes singular across a vast nothing, sometimes a puzzle of roadways. All connectors. All looking for connection. The towers reaching to the sky to send signals. The skyscrapers stair stepping upward.
Beyond the cities and towns, a single peak, snow capped, tapping heaven, then sloping down into a valley that breaks out into a river, then a canyon, then a desert. This vastness that is this land. The land our forefathers traversed at first by foot or horseback centuries ago. The land our forefathers traversed in search of a new life and new horizon. This country of promise.
My father came to this country, decades ago, standing on the deck of a freighter. He earned his entrance into America fighting on foreign soil, a soldier in the Philippine Scouts during WWII. He survived the Bataan Death March. He survived the Korean War.
As he approached the port of entry spanned by the Golden Gate Bridge, he spoke to his young daughter, my sister, of the promise of this land, of the promise of America. “We will have a good life here in America,” he said to her as they crossed underneath the great orange arches.
My plane lands a few hours south of where my father first entered this country, Monterey Bay, where a Filipino taxi driver takes me to my hotel. He is from the same area in the Philippines as my father. He speaks his language. He has been in this country 17 years. He speaks proudly of his daughter, who is going to college. He has my father’s dream, that his children get a degree. He has my father’s name. Jessie.
I see my father’s face in the ones of those who work here at the hotel. My father, who was a laborer after his 24 years of service as a sergeant in the US Army. My father who could could only dream of staying at a seaside resort. My father who labored so his children could dream.
Over the waters the next morning, perhaps one hundred miles south of the port my father first entered this country over sixty years ago a rainbow reaches from end to end. Not just one, but two. A double rainbow over the grey blue pacific waters.
Promise. The rainbow.
These days it can mean so many things
But originally the bow
Was set in the clouds as a promise
That God would never flood the earth again
Despite our turning away.
“And God said, ‘This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come. I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth.” Genesis 9:13
A sign of promise.
A sign of hope.
My father crossed the sea to enter this land just miles from the span of this rainbow. He came here to hope. He came here to fulfill promise.
My promise now to him is to care for his widow
The woman he brought here years ago torn from her homeland and mother and family
To start a new life in the land of promise.
I will care for her
And the memories she can no longer recall
Of a life, a home, a car, a family started here in this country.
I will care for my father’s grandchildren
The ones who now live the life he only dreamed of
Who carry degrees from universities and live in cities and towers from coast to coast.
Who pursue education and the hope of helping others in a world that greatly needs help.
And as my mother fades she too will join him.
And they will live in the legacy of their children and grandchildren
Who live out the promise they began
But not half hearted.