Monday, August 8, 2016

Symbolic Symbols

Many years ago my older daughter was chosen to give the important monologue at the end of the 8th grade play. It was a BFD, as our Vice President might say, and she took her responsibility quite seriously. There was one line, however, that tripped her up every time. I can't remember all of it but it contained the words "symbolic symbols". What the what? Symbolic symbols? As opposed to __________?

She nailed the monologue, but we never did figure out the symbolic symbols.

This last week those words came to mind while we were at the beach reading the reports of destruction caused by the flooding in Ellicott City. As we sat and had cool drinks on sunny streets there were people back home coming to terms with total loss. It felt surreal, and it definitely colored our vacation experiences. I felt compelled to take this picture of the Penny Lane clock in Rehoboth to contrast with the many views I was seeing of the Main Street Ellicott City clock: toppled, washed away, and found in pieces like the victim of a brutal murder.

So many things about the flood and its aftermath are mind-boggling and overwhelming. The concept of the clock is simple. It symbolizes Main Street the way we remember it. Finding it, reassembling it, and putting it back in its place speaks to the community: Main Street still lives. Ellicott City still lives. Just the sight of that clock says that while we have been beaten up and can never truly be the same, we're not done for. We refuse to be defeated.

We don't know what the future holds for our beloved town. We know that right now the story is about pitching in, cleaning up, donating, fundraising, and work. More and more hard work. In the center of it all, the clock speaks to normalcy, and resilience. We're down but we're not out.

When is a clock not a clock? When it's a symbolic symbol


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