I’m visiting Gettysburg, and no matter how many times I walk the battlefields, I’m always overcome with the extraordinary sacrifice of soldiers–then and now–who fight for freedom.
Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain’s words echo in my heart and mind as I walk. I remember his great speech at the dedication of the Maine Monument on October 3, 1888:
“In great deeds, something abides. On great fields, something stays. Forms change and pass; bodies disappear; but spirits linger, to consecrate ground for the vision-place of souls. And reverent men and women from afar, and generations that know us not and that we know not of, heart-drawn to see where and by whom great things were suffered and done for them, shall come to this deathless field, to ponder and dream; and lo! the shadow of a mighty presence shall wrap them in its bosom, and the power of the vision pass into their souls. This is the great reward of service. To live, far out and on, in the life of others; this is the mystery of the Christ,–to give life’s best for such high sake that it shall be found again unto life eternal.”
In great deeds, something abides. And in the great mystery of Christ, we give our “life’s best” for a high sake so that it “shall be found again.”
I feel heart-drawn just as Chamberlain said I would feel.
Later, I walk to the spot where Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address, and I take note of one certain witness tree.
I hear the words again: “In great deeds, something abides.” I want to live “far out and on” into the life of others and participate in the great mystery.
Next year is the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg. If you haven’t visited yet, I recommend taking a trip!