The Lord took me to the edge of my grave, and at the edge of my grave, I looked down. I looked down, and I was not afraid.
In Heaven I had a sister, a sister I had never met. She died of pneumonia at the age of only ten months. Exactly ten months later, my mother gave birth to me. Wendy’s
death became the doorway to my life:
My mother and father were family planners, but they certainly had not planned on my sister dying. Though my mother denied it, I knew that if Wendy
had not died, my being conceived only a month later never would have happened. And that was the grave I looked down into.
After my journey across America, I began asking myself more seriously than ever before a simple, age-old question: What if I had never been born? What then?
What beauty was there in the death of one human being, in the death even of a nation itself, that the spirit of America might live on forever through the resurrection to everlasting life?
After ten years of building and over eight years of flying the Dove
, there remained one room in my house called the RV Room
, where various composites, spare parts, excess building materials, painting equipment, plans, and tools littered the floor as a trailing expression of freedom that was to me as American and as beautiful as human flight itself:
Yet there still remained far beyond the miles of the American mission flight the very question of my own pathetic and measly existence here on Earth: Had I never been born, would America have been a better place? Would Mercy Hospital
, the site of my birth, remain as it did bearing the sign of my passage through life in the shape of the Cross?
And just beyond that hospital at Applegate Park
arose another startling question: Would Joshua
, another transient like myself, be any better off in my absence, or was I ever able to make a difference in the lives of others like him who also suffered the wounds of a broken and misguided world?
My life and the beauty of it hung limply over the very pool where I spent most of my childhood, and I saw in the absence of people there a death in myself that held me underwater long enough to see the reflections of eternity on the surface:
I saw the death of myself at the place where my grandfather used to take me fishing when I was just a boy, and in that Vision felt life pouring through me as the glide of water slipped gracefully through the narrow passages of dead and drought-stricken pasture:
I saw and felt the desiccation of a dying land below the windward wave of America’s beauty, and dared to call it home:
And home became my heart, where the miracle of resurrection, where all life and strength and glory and honor and blessing and riches dwelt in the innocence of childhood, never again to be stripped away or torn or tattered or mocked for her humility, but held and comforted and tenderly embraced and nurtured for the child that she was. She was new, she was free, she was safe, and she was home. She was America.
She was America the Beautiful