Monday, January 15, 2007

Seven Rooms in Search of a View; The Last Speech

Your Monday Photo Shoot: Pick a window in your home. Take a picture out of it. We're looking at things that are close to home this week.

Okay, but you're going to be disappointed. Let's start with my office:

See, around here, for much of the year, it's not a good idea to let a lot of sunlight into the house. The rooms get up around 80 to 90 degrees as it is. On top of that, we have room air conditioners in a couple of rooms. They aren't all effective - one isn't even wired up yet - but there they are. So overall, the windows around here are mostly closed off. Even in the winter, it doesn't seem worth messing with them. So we don't. The other issue in this particular room was glare as I sat at my desk. Hence the FedEx box used as a shade. Someday I'd like to see the walls finished in here and curtains hung.

It's not a great view anyway. Here's what I see if I actually stand next to my office window - which I almost never do. Can't even see the Rincon Mountains with the fences and neighborhood houses in the way.

The view out the bedroom windows is no better. Another fence, a tree, and a neighbor's back yard.

John's bathroom window. The sill used to have two dead butterflies on it. Sorry, Bea and Carly. I can't remember whether I eventually cleaned them up or John did. They were blue, similar to monarchs in size and markings.

My bathroom window. In this case it's the neighbor's front yard that isn't quite visible.

The library. The tree in front of the window protects from the heat but blocks much of the view. I don't know what that metal thing in the window sill is.

The view out the kitchen window - is of the den. For the first ten years this room, which we spend a lot of time in, was variously called the tv room, the living room, or the fireplace room. Finally John decided it's the den. So it is. But it's an addition to the house, predating our arrival by at least a decade. This kitchen window used to look out on the back yard. Now it reveals that I haven't put away the Christmas stockings yet. The window to the right of the fireplace is the one with the not-hooked-up-yet air conditioner.

And here we are on the left side of the den, looking out to the north on the best view in the house, (with the possible exception of the living room, which looks out on the street from behind white curtains). The den has these sliding glass doors, which I suppose aren't technically windows at all. The view is of our cracked and empty pool, a fence, and - voila! - the Catalina Mountains. We must be in Tucson after all!

Ultimately, of course, it doesn't matter whether there are pretty views to be had from inside this house. I get an eyeful of mountains every morning and evening. That's good enough for me!


Today was Martin Luther King Day, of course. I had the day off, and took the opportunity to get 11 glorious hours of sleep. But I don't want to let the day pass without comment, at least a retroactive one. On Sunday on the way to church, I heard a story on NPR about King's last speech. He was terribly tired, probably a bit discouraged, and wasn't even scheduled to speak that night. He was in his hotel room in Memphis, trying to rest. Over at a local church, Reverend Abernathy was supposed to speak. But the place was packed, and they wanted to hear Dr. King; so King was sent for. Without notes, he gave one of his greatest speeches ever.

He talked about great moments in history, and about the troubled present time, and his desire to help improve it. Mortality was on his mind. He spoke of a time years before, when he'd been stabbed in New York City. A ninth grader had read that the knife was so close to his heart that if he'd sneezed, it would have gone in. She wrote to King, "I'm so happy that you didn't sneeze." In that last speech, King agreed with that sentiment. He told about the things he would have missed, had he sneezed and died, the events he took part in in 1960, 1961, 1962 and beyond. Eventually he made his way to the rousing and, in retrospect, poignant conclusion:

Well, I don't know what will happen now. We've got some difficult days ahead. But it really doesn't matter with me now, because I've been to the mountaintop.

And I don't mind.

Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I'm not concerned about that now. I just want to do God's will. And He's allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I've looked over. And I've seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land!

And so I'm happy, tonight. I'm not worried about anything. I'm not fearing any man! Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord!!

The next day, he was dead.

One of the subdeacons at church told me that on Friday, he accidentally referred to the upcoming holiday as "St. Martin's Day." Then he got to wondering whether anyone has ever suggested sainthood for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Well, they have. Colby also found references to allegations of wrongdoing - that King plagiarized his first public sermon, that he may have made some personal indiscretions, that he may have been a communist. On the last point, Colby said, "So was Jesus."

It's easy to comb through the life of a public figure and find things they did wrong, or that people accused them of doing wrong - true, half-true, or totally false, the accusations stick around. But it doesn't matter now. As Colby pointed out, lots of saints had checkered pasts. What matters is that the man did amazing work, year after year, led and inspired and helped millions of people, and changed the conscience of a nation. And he was one heck of an orator.

God bless him.


I've been to the mountaintop.

Power and Prescience of King's 'Mountaintop' Speech - NPR - Jan 14, 2007

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