Zen Spot #25 -- Mindfulness, meditation and standing on both sides of the Mason-Dixon line February 13, 2018 00:05
The Mason-Dixon line defines the southern border of my home county. Lore holds that the line divided the North from the South during the American Civil War. On the southern side slavery was legal. A simplistic concept, but accurate enough.
My childhood home is equidistant from Philadelphia and the line. Three-hundred and fifty years after its founding by William Penn, the Quaker culture provides a palpable undercurrent. Meetinghouses, many predating the signing of the Declaration of Independence, are easy to find in urban, suburban and rural landscapes. The undercurrent ends abruptly at the line.
Family fell on both sides. We visited often. At the age of five, when our Bel-Air station wagon crossed, I knew something was different. I didn’t know about the line or the war or slavery, but I felt a disturbance in the force.
A ninth grade American history course taught the facts, but never explained the feeling. As a teenager, in the 1970s, it was understood that rural parts of southern Chester County were best avoided. The Ku Klux Klan still had a strong presence , especially on the north side of the line.
Last week, my son needed a ride from Philadelphia to Maryland. The trip required the rural route that was warned against as a teenager. Having driven several times as an adult, I was well-acquainted with the the line's location. On the return trip, by myself, I stopped and stood with one foot in each world.
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