Thursday, January 26, 2012

Standing in the Storm

Holding up the dome featured in yesterday's photograph of the District of Columbia War Memorial are a circle of pillars made of marble. They are striking, especially in contrast to the sparse tree of winter in the background of today's image.

Pillars are known for strength. According to the dictionary, a pillar is defined as "a tall vertical structure of stone, wood, or metal, used as a support for a building, or as an ornament or monument." Watching Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) resign from the U.S. House of Representatives and leave Congress on Wednesday reminded me of these pillars. What a remarkable human being.

In her farewell remarks to her colleagues yesterday, Giffords said, "I will recover and will return, and we will work together again, for Arizona, and for all Americans." And I believe she will return to the halls of Capitol Hill once more. It's what a great pillar would do, right?

The source of Giffords' strength and resilience must be founded in her recognition, understanding and acceptance of who she is and what is important to her. Before the terrible shooting last year and during the months after, you get the sense that Giffords really knows herself and uses that personal knowledge and truth to draw courage for the years of recovery ahead. As a result, she continues to earn the respect of her peers on the Hill -- no easy feat -- and keeps steady and focused on this challenging and frustrating road of recovery.

Another example of  pillar, Elizabeth Edwards, once shared in her autobiography what she wanted her children to say about her to their children in the future:
When they are older and telling their own children about their grandmother, they will be able to say that she stood in the storm, and when the wind did not blow her way -- and it surely has not -- she adjusted her sails.
Life can be filled with so many storms. Like Giffords and Edwards, we must live to be steadfast and strong. We must strive to pillars that stay upright in the midst of life's own howling winds and blinding rain, willing to to adjust our sails to accommodate life's ebbs and flows. In the storm, we must stand and keep supporting our own life domes.

Thankfully, at least we still have Gabby Giffords in our world now to show us how to do it with courage, optimism and grace.

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