When I was a child, I lived in a community near Marietta, Ohio, where my great grandfather Gage lived over one hundred years ago. He gave many acres of land to his sons, one of whom was my grandfather. The acreage lay on either side of Route 50 for many miles in a countryside that is as beautiful today as I remember it as a child.
In the center of Grandpa Gage's land stood a large, white house, the family homestead, which had a porch across the front facing a yard of green grass which appeared never to end. In one spot an oak tree grew and continued to grow until part of its roots were well above the ground, making a perfect seat for daydreaming. The dreams I dreamed were fanciful, inspired by landscapes in every direction by day, unbelievable sunsets in the evening, and a sky full of stars at night.
Life has more than fulfilled those dreams, yet during my 21 years in Washington, I feel that I am existing, not really living. I sit in crowded halls listening to the world's finest music, but I am distracted by coughing, restless people in attention-provoking hats. I search for beauty in museums with marble corridors supporting magnificent black marble pillars, but I find nothing that compares with the view from Grandpa's oak tree. There is a sense of unreality in this city where the protective umbrella of family tradition is missing. Tradition is a necessary element in my life, and I am living only superficially without it.
I am concerned because my children have missed the beauty of
living in a location surrounded by family traditions. We make an
attempt to supply a sense of belonging by attending the same
church year after year, the same schools, living in the same
neighborhood. But the congregation of the church is ever
changing, the children at school transfer with a bewildering
rapidity, and the neighbors move so frequently we seldom know
their names. It is difficult, if not impossible, to establish
traditions under these circumstances. I do not know the solution,
but I believe that much of the unhappiness and loneliness in the
world could be avoided if families were able to establish roots
in one location generation after generation. Maintaining family
traditions normally develops the best in us. We are stronger,
more stable, and better able to withstand the trials and
tribulations we are faced with in the process of living.