With the 50th Anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing as a backdrop this week, I’ve been contemplating what makes a good citizen of Planet Earth….
Forty nine years ago, U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson put a call out to those concerned about protecting our environment. Over 20 million people answered his call on the first Earth Day, April 22, 1970. (Earth Day Network, https://www.earthday.org/about/the-history-of-earth-day/.) That day in a speech in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Senator Nelson asked: “Are we able? Yes. Are we willing? That’s the unanswered question.”
On some dark days, I find myself in search of hope for Earth. You know, “the thing with feathers that perches in the soul” per poet Emily Dickinson. My college ornithology prof told me that he gave up his study of birds because it was too depressing to see the the future of so many bird species in trouble. My goodness, this was the chosen work of his life and he was giving up? Deeply admired, he was a walking encyclopedia on everything birds….
“I just want to go home,” she said. “I just want to enjoy the days I have left at home.”
This was her wish in the hospital today. No more medical tests. No more attempts to push the limits of life and find another scientific miracle to extend it. No more pretending that there could be any other kind of ending to this story.
It was time to get back to the basics. To simplify. To make the most of each day. To spend her remaining time in as many quality moments as possible with family and friends. Peace….
Ask anyone in my family and they remember Grandma Rau’s apple cobbler. The buttery crust steaming over hot sliced apples served with a splash of cream made for an unforgettable dessert or breakfast. I can still see Grandma’s hands working a silver paring knife around and around each apple until there were long strips of apple peel for us to snack on…
We’ve all had them. Harried days when our stress level kicks up a few notches. Times when our thoughts are stuck on replay like a record player needle caught on a scratched LP.
One such day stands out for me. It had been an exceptionally difficult day at work. Like usual after getting home, I put on my walking shoes and hit the trail. Maybe I could walk my stress away? As my mind turned the day’s experiences over and over again, I was oblivious to anything else around me until some movement up ahead brought me to my senses.
The stories of people are often rooted in the stories of land—but the stories of land are often shaped by the stories of people, too. I took an afternoon road trip with an elderly friend yesterday to explore his old "stomping grounds" in a township where he had lived for decades and raised his family. Through his stories, he shared his roots and I discovered more about my own.