What fascinates me about the man is not just that he was a writer but that he was so young when he embarked on the road that made him legend. He was only 33 years old when he drafted the Declaration of Independence. Amazing. He went on to became secretary of state to America's first president George Washington, the vice president to the second president John Adams and, in his late 50s became president himself.
I regret we didn't bring the camera (these are cell phone pics) because the place was a beautiful piece of art (according to Wikipedia, it was modeled after the Pantheon in Rome) and a thought-provoking insight into what was in the thoughts of one of those who formed some amazing ideas. Jefferson's 19 foot statue (weighing 5 tons) is surrounded by columns and sections of wall (on which are quotes from his writings) open to the outside breezes and air. Beautiful architechure. Beautiful art. Beautiful ideas. It's amazing when those things combine.
While the site is immense and striking, I found myself pondering the extraordinary ordinariness of us all. When you live in the shadow of this city, it doesn't take long to sink in that "great figures" (past and present) are really only human--in both their failings and their nobleness. We are all amazingly similar, creatures created in the image of God, with pulls toward nobleness that echo from our creation in his image as well as the bent towards selfishness and pride. Jefferson rejected orthodox Christianity (he's famous for his Jefferson Bible) in favor of his own version of spirituality, yet I still easily find deafening echoes of God's truth in his some of his work. If God is who he says (and Paul's right and God is indeed emblazoned around us), then that shouldn't be surprising. But it still takes my breath away when one of us puts pen to paper, thought to word, and truth to action--not so much because of those words or acts themselves but because those words and acts remind me of what beckons all of us: a call to work and walk with God to bring Light, Love and Right-ness.
(Images: from my cell phone)