A shy girl from New Jersey branched out on her own after two years of community college and moved away from home. She got her degree but didn’t yet want to leave the place that she felt was helping her discover who she really was. She stayed on for graduate school, worked on campus, lived in an apartment with friends, and started dating a boy. She didn’t have many relationships in her young life and the last one she had only lasted for 3 month. This one was different though, she was widely in love with this intellectual free spirit who was passionate about ideas and life. They had a future. They had plans. He took care of her. Then one day out of the blue, he showed up on her doorstep and said it was over. No explanation. No chance to work it out. It was over. The young girl was devastated. Everything she had been hoping and dreaming for came crashing down. The depression set in and she barely managed to drag herself to work and class. Weekends were especially hard as there wasn’t anything to do. She was restless. So she drove.
Not a fan of highways, the young girl would take a drive down a straight road towards Gettysburg, PA. She had been there a few times before but never by herself and never with the boy who broke her heart. She cried mostly during those drives but would often park and just sit and look out at the battlefields. To cry over one broken heart was nothing compared to the lost lives and pain the soldiers endured during the Battle Of Gettysburg. Slowly time turned her sorrow for herself into sorrow for the scores of people past and present who had lost love ones to war. As she looked out and walked those sacred grounds, she heard the whispers of those who had passed on and heard them pray for hope, life, and freedom for all.
Since that dark time, the girl grew up and now knows she would not be the strong independent woman she is today without her past experiences and she knows how blessed she is to have been able to learn all of this in such a humbling environment. She still feels connected to that place even though her weekend visits were almost 15 years ago. Still though, she tries to visit so she can remember and stay grounded. She also now explores with many museums and monuments that mark the landscape of that little town. Even former President Dwight Eisenhower and his wife felt drawn to Gettysburg and on her last visit, the woman visited their farm. The Eisenhower farm is a National Historic Site but it is also still a working farm. Tour the house and you can almost hear the wooden rockers of the chairs on the porch and the dull hum of the television as the Eisenhower’s ate their evening meals. You never know where life will lead you, but trust in it as the direction you go is the one you are supposed to. Mine sent me back to New Jersey. Back to the soil of my family land to plant and watch and grow.
“When tillage begins, other arts follow. The farmers, therefore, are the founders of human civilization” – Daniel Webster