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The Kahlil Gibran Memorial Garden

When you’re traveling by bike, you have the benefit of a different perspective along the way.  You’re going slow enough to be able to see and appreciate things you otherwise might miss if you were driving in a car.  But you’re also travelling fast enough to cover a lot more distance than you can when you’re walking.  That’s the way it was on this ride.  Along the way I ran across the Kahlil Gibran Memorial Garden.  It is located in the midst of the wooded ravine known as Normanstone Park which borders Rock Creek Park, just off of Massachusetts Avenue and across the street from the British Embassy (MAP).  The garden was built and then dedicated as a memorial in 1991 to one of history’s most influential Arab Americans, Kahlil Gibran.  Of Lebanese descent, Kahlil Gibran was a writer, poet, artist and philosopher.  His writings and poetry have inspired countless millions around the world.  He is the third best-selling poet of all time, behind Shakespeare and Lao-Tzu.

The memorial garden was a project of the Kahlil Gibran Centennial Foundation, established in 1983 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the poet’s birth.  The centerpieces of the memorial are a bust of the Gibran in a contemplative pose, and a star-shaped  fountain surrounded by flowers, hedges and limestone benches engraved with various quotes from the poet, which include:  “We extract your elements to make cannons and bombs but out of our elements you create lilies and roses.  How patient you are earth and how merciful!”  “When you love you should not say God is in my heart, but rather, I am in the heart of God.”  “Do not the spirits who dwell in the ether envy man his pain?”  “Life without freedom is like a body without a soul, and freedom without thought is confusion.”

Unlike many of the memorials downtown, this off the beaten path site is a serene and peaceful place, reflecting Gibran’s passion for peace.  So if you have the time, pack a lunch and bring along good book (such as Gibran’s “The Prophet”), and you’ll be rewarded with a delightful way to spend a quiet afternoon in D.C.

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[Click on the thumbnails above to view the full size photos]

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