my kids and i visited yesterday both the birthplace of abraham lincoln in hodgenville and his childhood home (until the age of eight or so) just down the road at knob creek – all in central kentucky.  although it was later discovered lincoln was born elsewhere on the property, the tiny little log cabin where lincoln was thought to be born is enshrined within a smaller scale almost-replica of the lincoln memorial in washington dc.  while i appreciate the grand intent here to celebrate lincoln’s life – and all that he stood for … it was almost a bit jarring to encounter this huge stone formal memorial trapping the tiny cabin inside.  this little cabin -in many ways and to many people- symbolizes humble beginnings, hope, free will, aspiration, curiosity, honorable ambition, the power of intellect over wealth, the american dream and (most of all) freedom itself.  yet the cabin is encapsulated within heavy stone walls.  it’s physically, emotionally and mentally stifling to stand viewing the cabin inside the monument. makes me wonder why a place that stands for freedom, above all else, is honored by confining it within a tomb-like stone structure.  and also why it is that we americans so often want to take what is wild and free – basic values underlying our country’s foundation – and trap it, own it and make into something we view as perfect… when what’s wild and free is so often already perfect in its spirited imperfection, humility and honesty.  this monument is very old – built in the early twentieth century – so this isn’t a new phenomenon.  but stone monument aside – what struck me as most moving and inspiring about the location was the tranquility and natural beauty of the landscape surrounding. it’s a place of lush green grass, ivy, damp stone walls (near the sinking spring especially), rolling hills, leafy draping trees, vast stretches of field and lots of solitude. a place where a boy could easily wander and connect to his environment in a way that allows one to see how all of life is intertwined.

front view of the memorial – entire small birthplace cabin is inside this building

looking down the steps

with malice toward none, with charity for all.

window of the log cabin, inside the memorial.

wandering the grounds

fields of knob creek, lincoln’s early boyhood home

more field at knob creek.