30 November 2013

Hanukah Day Two: Peacefield

I had thought the crisp Quincy air would have earned me points but dumb luck.  After all, you should be freezing cold when you come to honor the soul of this Founder whose own internal fire protected him from those harsh Revolutionary winters.   But the lady at the church couldn't let me in and even after offering to come worship on Sunday morning, to pray in comity and national unity just a few feet above the crypt where the hero lies buried, the way remained blocked by a friendly but stalwart follower of the rules.  "You can't see the grave til April," she said.  "We're closed til then."

Imagine that.  John and Abigail Adams, bereft of visitors until the spring thaw.  And so I yearn for the greening, five months hence.

This need to yearn, this longing to remember, sent me packing back to the car, a coffee, and a second plan:  pay respects to the image and go say Kaddish where he died:  the Old House at Peacefield.  Though stripped of its garden growth for the usual Massachusetts winter, the paths were nevertheless an easy route to walk and take in the cantankerous spirt of this brilliant man.

I had the Macabees in mind, tangentially, in so far as I imagined their reconnaissance of Jerusalem before recovering the sacred center.  No access to graves; denied worship; left to look at the statue, an idol to memory, while barred from giving honor in my way, our way, as a people.

I know, I know.  I'm exaggerating; and having a little fun with it.  But it didn't escape me that this is what has become of national memory:  subjected to the arbitrariness of one person's will and budget cuts to the National Park Service while other displays of wayward national pride like aircraft carriers or tax rebates or inhumane budget cuts to shelters and feeding programs fatten the gusto of some while depriving others.  Our national spirit is too cold to remember correctly what truly matters.

Good grief.  And then, to add insult to injury, standing outside the doors to the Old House in Peacefield, where Adams drew his last breath, I thought I heard the driving leaves whisper Adams' last words, "Jefferson lives."

True--but only when the National Parks are open.

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