“Climb every mountain,
Ford every stream,
Follow every rainbow,
‘Till you find your dream.”
Every time I made it to the top of Mt. Rubidoux, I wanted to sing songs from The Sound of Music. The mountain and I became intimate friends in the months after Charlie’s birth, when I found myself a stay-at-home mom, having happily given up my job but hopelessly lost nonetheless. In the afternoons I would fight against restlessness and pack Charlie in his stroller and we’d take a walk up the mountain. It was rare we made it to the top but everything about the journey up, no matter how far (or not-far, as the case usually was), was glorious. Terry Tempest Williams once wrote:
“Wildness reminds us what it means to be human,
what we are connected to
rather than what we are separated from.”
And freedom. There’s something so freeing about being out in nature, a part of the elements. I treasure those walks I took with Charlie, and with others. I treasure the times I made it to the top and was able to stand in the shadow of the cross. The cross is an awe-inspiring sight, even for me, a recovering Catholic. I happen to love religious iconography and I feel that we should respect history, even the ugly parts. We can’t change the story of how we came to be.
It was still dark this morning when I found out via Facebook (always the bearer of the most depressing news) that there’s a possibility the Mt. Rubidoux cross might be taken down, because a group called Americans United for Separation of Church and State thinks its presence on the mountain violates the separation between church and state. I realize that the cross is a religious symbol but to me it’s more about the historical aspect of it than anything else. Besides, it’s not doing anything but standing there being a cross. Which is apparently incredibly offensive.
I was so troubled by this that when I went back to sleep, I even dreamed about the cross. And Mt. Rubidoux. And how much it reminds me of the town where I fell in love with my husband, spent five years of my life, had two kids, changed, grew, evolved. And through it all, I walked, walked, walked up that mountain and always felt good when I caught a glimpse of the cross. Because it was a constant. A symbol of reassurance. A reminder that it was going to get better.
I’m getting a little tired of these silly battles that we have to fight. Really, we’re fighting about historical landmarks now? When there are people who are homeless? When we’re at war? What giant assholes we are, and how sad it is that we have to expend our energy this way. I don’t know, maybe I’m just cranky today. Maybe I’m just a little upset because the T-shirt I wore today is now too small and my stomach has been hanging out all day and I look like a redneck. Maybe if people weren’t doing stupid things like trying to get a treasured historical landmark removed, I would have had the focus and energy to change my shirt and thus been able to give my self-esteem a much-needed boost.
I think I’ve decided to sue Americans United for Separation of Church and State for emotional damages.