What’s the Difference

Have you wondered about the difference between a memorial and a monument?

During the winter of 1995, we toured Washington, D.C. My son and I stood in freezing drizzle as we waited for the Metro subway, then we joined a line of shivering tourists outside the White House. In spite of the weather, excitement traveled with us as we experienced the aura of our nation’s capitol.

We strolled through each floor of the Smithsonian and marveled at the artifacts of ancient history. We ate the famous bean soup in the Senate cafeteria and munched on bagels in the delis. We walked somberly through the white crosses at Arlington Cemetery and read every word of the original Constitution.

While touring the Washington Monument, we learned the difference between a monument and a memorial. Monuments are structures which honor someone or some noble cause. The Washington Monument honors our first president, George Washington.

Lincoln_Memorial_(Lincoln_contrasty)A memorial, such as the Lincoln and Jefferson Memorials, contains the image of the person for which it is named. Jefferson stands at attention in his memorial. Lincoln sits in a sculptured chair, his immortal words forming an arc around him. http://www.nps.gov/linc/index.htm

As I think about that vacation, I realize my own memorial lies within the soul cavern where God resides. I bear the image of the Almighty One, Emanuel, God with us.

Even when I miss my mother and hate the Alzheimer’s that destroys her mind, a morsel of hope hides within me. God plays spiritual peek-a-boo with my soul.

Even when I feel alone, I do not live in oblivion. God creates a heavenly purpose and sculpts his perfection in me.

Lessons learned. Scars healed.

I place my very self in the safest possible hands—in the omniscient palm of my loving Father. He alone creates in me an eternal memorial.

Hopefully, the memorial of my life reflects the origin of its Light.

©2013 RJ Thesman – “The Unraveling of Reverend G” – http://amzn.to/11QATC1

Beautiful Yet Terrible

What could possibly be beautiful and terrible at the same time?

During our recent family vacation in New Mexico, we noticed how many crosses were sold. It seemed that every store, every boutique sold some version of a cross.

The ones that surprised us most were fashioned out of plain old sticks, often tied together with barbed wire – simple, yet effective. And they sold for $15.99.

We dragged my brother into one store and asked, “What do you think of these crosses?”

A puzzled look replaced his usual grin as he said, “Those are just sticks.” Yes, indeed.

So for the rest of our vacation, my sister, my sister-in-law and I gathered sticks, bark, twigs, assorted rocks and other natural wonders to make our own versions of the cross. Some will become gifts. Some will seem too precious to give away, so we will keep them ourselves.

cross - barkMy version consists of two pieces of bark that I found on one of our hikes, hot-glued together and decorated with a young pinecone in the center. It reminds me of our family time, of the joys of New Mexico and of the young man who died on a cross – for me.

My favorite singing group, Selah performs a song titled “That Beautiful, Terrible Cross.”  Listen to it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jsam4AJiPaA

Terrible because of the extreme torture its victims endured. Beautiful because it represents a lasting sacrifice that wiped out our sins.

My homemade cross now hangs in my guest bedroom, on the wall with other Southwest memorabilia and reminds me daily of that beautiful, terrible moment when Jesus paid the utmost so that I could be part of God’s family.

It’s worth much more than $15.99.

©2013 RJ Thesman – “The Unraveling of Reverend G” – http://amzn.to/11QATC1