"Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one's life for one's friends."- John 15:13
How in the world could I begin to paint a picture of Arlington National Cemetery? How?
If you've never seen it, look it up. Both breath-taking and heart-breaking at the same time. Lines and lines and lines of beautifully white washed stones, each one there for a soul who gave a life for our freedoms. For our country. For you. For me.
Tears flowed freely as I looked at photos of family members clinging to the memory of that soldier, clutching that stone as if to grab a piece of their beloved once again. And the soldiers saluting, I cannot even begin to describe the combination of absolute pride and brokenness. I wont even pretend to understand how it would feel to stand there on this side of heaven, looking on all my fallen friends.
When a friend of mine asked me to do this, I knew it was going to be incredibly challenging. Not only was it a whole lot of lines to paint, but the significance of the sacrifice these people made, the representation of each individual who served and gave his life, there was no way I could capture it. I still haven't, but I knew I could take a lifetime and wouldn't get it, and I had to be okay with that. Because I could never confine the beauty of that sacrifice to a canvas. As I type that I think of the Lord and shake my head at even trying to contain His Majesty.
I knew in my heart I could not do this justice, but I sure would give it on over to the Lord. The landscape aspect came naturally. The stones were a dickens to paint-ALL THE LINES. In fact, I felt like the stones needed more space, so I scraped a section of the painting and started over.
But the soldier, planting that first flag through the crust of the soil he vowed to protect-- I couldn't give him a face. I just could not define him, because he needed to be a representation of all our men and women who serve, who leave family and home to defend our country.
There he is, back pack full of flags, meant to honor each and every one of those souls who died to protect us. A rectangular piece of fabric with our beloved stars and stripes, which beautifully depicts all we should stand for. That piece of fabric seems such a small way to honor that amazing sacrifice; but, I beam inside knowing what Old Glory represents. I just want to hug that person- to say "Thank you for your service, for loving your country, and for honoring these people who died for you and me." I know I would never ever get those words out because I'm tearing up now, only seeing that opportunity in my mind's eye.
I pray that the Lord is pleased with this most feeble attempt to capture and honor Arlington National Cemetery, the people who are laid to rest there, and all those who have served past and present.
I love our country and its foundation in Christ. I am so grateful for the souls who have and currently serve. To those folks, I say "Thanks."