(Originally posted on my private Facebook page Jan. 10 after the insurrection at the Capitol. I’ve decided to cross post it here as well)
I’ve got a lap full of cattle dog and a glass of a new Irish whiskey I had to try.
One of the best sermons I’ve ever heard was a prior priest at St. Nick’s. He spoke on the importance of symbol, as we understand it in the East. The word “symbol” means to unite, to bring together the spiritual/heavenly with the physical. It connects you to “meaning.” It is the exact opposite of the word “diabolos.” That’s not a word we use much anymore, but it is how we describe the devil’s work.
It is division, and strife.
It is disconnection.
This week was hard for those of us who care about these kinds of things. To say I am sensitive to symbol is to say that the earth revolves around the sun. I’m Eastern Orthodox for heaven’s sake. My walls are adorned with icons. I light candles. I wear a cross. My brain speaks only metaphor. I see symbol everywhere.
If I can find meaning in it, I can deal with it.
But this? What we saw? There is no meaning in that. It is diabolical.
And it was so by design. It was an attack on the most important symbol in the free world: the American Capitol.
Our flags are on our uniforms, but they can be subject to emotion, to misinterpretation or to misappropriation.
The Capitol? It stands alone.
It means what it means.
It means “by the people and for the people.”
It means “peaceful transfer of power.”
It means you, me, we.
As the Twin Towers symbolized American and global financial might, that was their value in the attack. As the Pentagon symbolized our military might? Such was its value. The Capitol was spared that day, by the heroic sacrifice of a plane full of people. But they wanted it. Because symbol matters.
You’re sad for the same reason I’m sad. The symbol was desecrated. That may mean that the value is less, or that the meaning is no more. I believe that that is not true. Though the symbol connects to the meaning, it is not the thing.
We are the thing. Tomorrow is a new day.
Who knows what it will bring. The end is not yet written.
(If you can see this, I’m letting you do so. If you fight with me, I’ll put you on the other list. I’m not arguing over truth.)
P.S. The whiskey is a good one.