Happy Friday! I hope you’ve all had a great week. While adding the watermark to this week’s photo, it occurred to me that I may be spotting photos to snap based as much on what something makes me think about as on what I’m seeing of value to photograph. I don’t think it’ll come as a surprise to any of you that I kinda love writing. I’m wondering how much of this project was a challenge to take more photographs versus how much of it was an excuse to write more. Whatevs! I’m having fun with it, so boo-yah.
I was waiting for the bus with Youngest when our fluttering flag caught my eye. I’m going to pause here for a sec because I’m a bit nervous that I may offend some people with this photo and post, and that is absolutely not my intention. Our flag is a mess at the moment. I mean a MESS. We generally get a new one every spring, and I actually don’t usually leave it out through the winter. It was still out there, flying away, though. It’s tattered and torn and most of the stripes are hanging in shreds.
As I looked at the hot mess of a patriotic tribute we were displaying, I bemoaned yet another aspect of the house/yard that wasn’t being kept up well…and–even worse–was potentially coming across as disrespectful to others. We fly a flag to show respect for our country and those who stand to support and defend it. We are proud of the service that both of our dads provided to our country. We are grateful for the service others have provided and are providing now. We love our country and its people and are grateful to call it home. And we are showing that by…flying a beat-up, sad-looking flag.
Amidst this internal diatribe I was berating myself with while Youngest chased me around the front yard, a little, defiant part of my brain thought the state of the flag was perfectly fitting, thank you very much. (I’m a Gemini–having a split persona of sorts…and whole conversations with myself…is just part of that gig.) Uh, fitting? How is a wrecked flag fitting on any level? Bear with me.
That ripped and worn-out flag flying outside my front door brings to mind the Star Spangled Banner flag at the National Museum of American History. If you haven’t had the honor of standing in front of that flag, make an effort to go do that. It’s one of the most moving experiences I’ve ever had. I didn’t anticipate the emotions I felt looking out across the expanse of that ginormous historical icon…which is also a mess. When I saw it, I didn’t see its damage as flaws. Nope. Every weathered bit of fabric, every faded color, every area where the cloth is gone entirely represents something that flag went through as it served our nation to first provide and then represent a moment of great hope. It has earned its weathering, and that weathering just enhances its story.
The same is true for our little family’s flag. It’s weathering wind or storms or harsh sun day in and day out while we ride the currents of life. We often feel whipped about and a little rough around the edges when life is nutty or challenging. Sometimes we just want to fall to pieces…but we keep the pieces together and keep plugging along because we have to. Because someone is depending on us. Because falling down defeated isn’t even a choice we consider. And we are stronger for pushing through during those moments when we have the least to push with. Yes, stronger–even if we come out the other side a bit wind-whipped and battered.
For me, this flag represents a quiet strength. Going through strife and showing its impact and carrying on despite everything is a badge of honor all its own. There is no disrespect there. That, my friends, is perseverance.
Sadly, the flag has been retired for the rest of the winter as of yesterday. The holder didn’t survive the high winds we experienced the previous night–it twisted right off the house! So I’ll let the flag rest inside until I can reattach the holder in the spring. As much as I was reflective about my tattered flag acting as a stoic icon of weathering literal and figurative storms, I do not see the fact that it has now fallen as any kind of moment requiring reflection. It just blew down in the wind. When something doesn’t cooperate with my ever-present quest for a silver lining, logic and science step right in to keep me off the edge.