in a nod to last night’s spectacular ’round the commonwealth lighting of fire-breathing beacons to salute the radiant queen of england, my daughter is preparing her own fire-themed evening.
the tradition here, at the start of summer and the end of yet another school year, is quite pagan: a roaring bonfire where all of the remnants of the previous terms notebooks and homework are gladly tossed into the dancing flames.
i’m reminded of the pure paganism of burning things, and was reminded last night as i ‘followed’ the beacon’s progress via a fluttering of twitter updates. as each torch of flames danced and crackled, watched by circles of adoring and festive brits, i launched a fast-backward in time, envisioning the cluster of mankind in the history of humanity celebrating, honoring, nurturing, cremating, cooking, feasting, praying, warming, breathing and existing around a great big roaring fire.
in the tradition-rich four days that unfolded in the united kingdom, i had a bit of time to feel something sink in to my awareness. that is this. long live the queen, and on and on and on. as far as symbolism goes, give me a blood and bones stalwart old gal who’s seen the worst of times and the best of times while warmly and steadfastly hovering just around the bend, the ties that bind a great nation are the ties that also link far and away back through history, creating a golden nugget of pride: in their nation, in their glory, in their sacrifice, in their service, in their people.
i’ve realized that the existence of a constant, as the monarchy represents, the stronghold of the heart of that gang of brits, really makes a difference in glueing them all together. call it a family, with the matriarch, or down the road, patriarch, assembling all of the little ducks in a row, round the great big table for sunday dinner, something that is stronger and bigger than the turnstile, revolving door representatives that inhabit, for short shifts, 10 downing street, or the white house.
like everyone else around my age and gender, i had a hopelessly huge fan card for the diana club. and i surely still do, and will, as i think of her radiance through the smiles of her dapper boys. and in those days, before that paris crash and just afterwards, i was surely soured on the entire windsor clan as somehow representing ‘downers’ and ‘naysayers’ to the peppy loose cannon princess.
but, over time, and certainly in the vast bit of time over the long weekend as i learned more of queen elizabeth II’s life, i have a new, deep appreciation for her stick-to-itness, a far cry from her silly self-interested dandy of a runaway king uncle.
as i watch my parents and their generation play out their lives, there is a constant. they lived through the depression, the awful second world war, and all that came as a result. what formed their character, all of them, almost as chisel to a rock, is the same committed sense of duty and honor that is, sadly, vanishing more quickly than imaginable.
i have come to respect someone who puts country ahead of self. it’s rare these days, and to have an over the top billion dollar really long weekend to toast this cute little lady is, really, the least anyone can do to thank her for always showing up, an earnest twinkle in her eye, tending to business and her great land, with her sturdy black purse eternally dangling from her bent, bejeweled arm.