Yesterday evening, we were visiting the Oklahoma City Bombing Memorial. A memory of someone special reminded me to take a picture of this sunset.
My dad and his wife came in for Thanksgiving. We always seem to take visitors from out of town to the Memorial. As they walked around and as my kids went off playing up and down some terraced grass steps, I stood near the survivor tree by myself and looked out over the whole plaza. I noticed that no one ever seems to visit the Memorial alone. Everybody was with someone else, either in groups of two’s or three’s, or with a whole big clump of family.
The blue of the sky from the setting sun, the green of the grass and the pine trees, the water from the reflecting pool, all contrasted sharply with the bronze walls at the ends of the plaza, the empty concrete walls where once stood a building, the rock inlay in the walk ways.
For the most part, the whole plaza was quiet. Even the normal street noise did not seem to invade the area. There is a solemnity about this place. People were generally silent, or they talked quietly among themselves. Once or twice, the quiet would be broken with the sound of someone softly hollering at a family member to come over near them. But it was mostly quiet. Then I noticed some other more subtle sounds. I heard the sounds of life—laughter of children (not only mine but others) and the song of a bird singing to the setting sun.
It dawned on me as I stood there taking it all in. This Memorial, like all memorials, are not only a remembrance of the lives lost, but also a celebration of life itself—a celebration of the light within each of us, and how that light, if we do not interfere with it, spreads out from us, among us, to fill our hearts with love. Memorials like this one remind us that people are the most important part of our lives, not the things we own or fuss over. It is all about people. Only love will fit through the narrow gate of heaven.
Each of the 168 chairs, representing the victims of the bombing, are lit at night to remind us of the light within each and every soul. From across the reflecting pool, you can see how that light, even though the person it represents is not visible, still affects, and reflects, in us today.