Keep the earth below my feet
For all my sweat, my blood runs weak
Let me learn from where I have been
Keep my eyes to serve, my hands to learn
Keep my eyes to serve, my hands to learn…Mumford & Sons
Over the years, I have had the opportunity to visit many places and walk many miles. Starting with running up and down steps with weighty luggage trying to make train transfers to traversing magnificent terrain in an effort to experience geographical and/or historic landmarks… and everything in between. I know many people use technology to measure and document their activity. For me as the years march on, I just find myself bit by bit, throwing a fit as the steps go on and on. I just don’t think though, that is how the technological name was derived…
As an introvert, I can easily get lost in a conversation with myself internally, occasionally being quite impressed with my own humor, thoughts, insights, to the point of laughing out loud only to be greeted with stares that send me the nonverbal message, “What is wrong with that dude?” Anyway, this typically occurs when I’m alone and facing a challenge of some type. Such was the case this weekend when I visited Luxembourg, but more on that later.
Luxembourg is a small, strategic country located in between Germany, Belgium and France. My first stop was to visit the city museum in Luxembourg City. What immediately jumped out at me is that this country has been under the control of many others throughout its history…the Romans, the Germans, the French, the Spanish, the Austrians, just to name a few. With each occupation, the fortifications of this strategic location were reinforced and expanded to the point that Luxembourg city became known as, “Gibraltar of the North.” The history is right in front of you as you view the city from any of its many levels. There are casements, tunnels, forts and walls that are evident in almost any direction you look. It’s a magnificent city. In some ways, it reminded me a little of Edinburgh, Scotland with its multiple levels.
I decided to explore the city by foot from the lowest level, the “Grund,” and work my way up the multiple plateaus taking photos and enjoying the beauty of the city and wow, is it beautiful. I must admit however, with each plateau achieved, I noticed my internal dialogue cursing myself for deciding to walk and cursing that dang Hop On and Hop Off tour bus in its ever cheerful redness and waving, refreshed, smiling tourists. Meanwhile, as I climbed my final endless steps to the top of the final plateau, taking each step as a major hurdle to overcome, looking like a climber taking his last steps to the summit of Mt. Everest (replacing the snow with heat and humidity), I could almost hear the gasps of my fellow visitors as they wondered if they remembered how to perform CPR.
It was during those last 10 or 20 steps, drenched in sweat, my mind went to Mumford & Sons’ song, Below My Feet (see partial lyrics above). I never know what is going to pop up in my mind. There are many interpretations of this song, but for me on this day, I wanted the Good Lord to keep me alive with the chance to live and serve again…an eye opener to try harder to do better…a lesson that my wife Ronda shows me in action every day of her life.
After a brief period of recovery in the shade, a trip to the American Military Cemetery was next on my agenda. One of the things I have consistently found in Europe is a high level of attention to American military cemeteries. Every one I have visited has been immaculate and held in high reverence. The cemetery in Luxembourg is no different. Filled with young Americans (many, many privates), it is always an emotional experience. Each giving their lives in traumatic fashion for a country that values freedom in all of its forms. I hope those values are never altered or rationalized to fit an agenda. Out in front as if to lead all of the fallen military personnel is the grave of General George S. Patton. This was special for me as my father served under Patton’s leadership across North Africa, into Sicily and all the way up Italy during WWII.
This morning as I was thinking about writing this entry, I heard noises outside of my window coming from this quaint German neighborhood. I looked out to see a neighborhood parade running through the normally quiet streets. Everyone was having a nice time and enjoying the festivities. I couldn’t help but think of those young men and women who had given the ultimate, just so such events could take place. As I left the street and walked up the steep cobblestone pathway to my room, my internal thoughts led me to give consideration to buying a fitbit.
Until next time…