I took this picture of my library’s flagpole not long before a sudden and severe thunderstorm tore through the area, which is evident in the ominous clouds and shadows obscuring the otherwise vibrant colors on the flag.
This view brought to mind the final lines of “The Star-Spangled Banner”, which I pondered a few years ago during the Kaepernick kneeling kerfuffle and remain resonant today:
And the rockets’ red glare,
the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night
that our flag was still there
That flag survived the bombardment, and its survival was made evident by the bombardment itself.
You can pick the metaphor to represent what we’re living through now—just some turbulent weather or a straight-up bombardment. Either way, as a nation we’ve endured lots of them throughout history. (Today being Veteran’s Day is another reminder of this.) And yet our flag is still there.
I take comfort in Sam’s speech to Frodo near the end of Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, when they’re stuck in Osgiliath in a particularly dark moment:
It’s all wrong. By rights we shouldn’t even be here. But we are. It’s like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger they were. And sometimes you didn’t want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer.
Here’s hoping for sunnier days. (I do anticipate a brighter forecast starting on or around January 20.)