Ted in Israel
Some years ago, my elder son and a good friend took a very long walk through New York City. So far and wide did their strides and conversation take them, that they found themselves at Grant’s Tomb. The actual tomb of that giant of American history. There it was; as surprising as the La Brea Tar Pits on a neon lit Wilshire Blvd.
With that inspiration in hand, they migrated over to the beautiful Cloisters and my son came home with the notion to describe to me how very lovely it was.
I haven’t been much of a traveler but, when I was in college, I took a semester abroad in southern France. To fulfill a course in Romanesque Architecture, we traveled through the south of the country, in a small school bus, visiting the major pilgrimage cathedral at Chartres, the castle of the renegade popes in Avignon and a half dozen or so small churches and abbeys scattered across what appeared—miraculously—to be an untrod countryside. We studied the style and artistry and were able to approach each new site with a mental checklist of concerns about what might be different or unusual.
On one such excursion, after an inspection of the premises, we came to archways leading outside at an alternate egress. Peering through, we saw only an empty plot of land. The question rising in all of our young minds was “Where is the cloister?”
We had traveled from New York to southern France, but this cloister had traveled in the opposite direction and was now in New York.
In all of these many decades that have passed, I never have gone to see it, though it is truly so very reasonably close by. Right there! Not too far from Grant’s Tomb. Now, now that my son has viewed it, I wonder at what my struggle is to make that easiest of pilgrimages and, for real, to walk that absent cloister’s path of my youth.
The original marking of its invisible form has escorted me on a zig-zagging voyage over foreign land mass and through the turmoil of passing decades—to the glory of sharing considerations of its beauty with my son. I am content, filled with love and gratitude, that along with so much of life’s required labor, we have happily mixed the placement of each other's forward footsteps, up, up, the supreme unseen staircase of eternity.
A Certain Smile
On the right is my father, a young lieutenant in the eastern theatre during WWII. On the left is my elder son, at roughly the same age (they are both photographed in their early twenties), in Boston.
75 years after deployment, a grandfather’s expression, reflecting a very particular view of the world, appears again on the face of his grandson.
Another picture, another thousand words
✧ ✧ ✧