Spring has finally arrived here in Memphis and I am the lucky girl that gets to sit on the porch and stare at these beautiful flowers every morning while drinking my coffee. It might just be one of my favorite things right now (Thank you, Miss Emily).
I have to admit, I haven’t gotten nearly as much done as I would’ve liked to by now. It’s been a month since quitting my job, and that seems to have been the easy part. Cherishing the freedom of unemployment while still being productive is a balance act I haven’t quite mastered. I need to spend more time writing. I haven’t volunteered as much as I’d like. Heaven knows I’m not physically prepared for the hiking trip I have planned in a few weeks. But I have been cooking and cleaning, sharing laughter and hugs with dear friends, making up for lost time by spending it without reserve. I am learning that who I am is not the same as what I do.
I have a few more weeks in Tennessee before I move on to the beaches of Florida and then the mountains of North Carolina. I’m enjoying my time in the city but I’m restless for the open night sky and the fresh air of Spring, unpolluted by the noise of cars and planes. Yesterday I had the chance to visit the Memphis Zoo. It was a beautiful day made even sweeter by the words of Chief Seattle memorialized in the park. The entire speech made in 1855 can be read here. The words are heartbreaking, yet full of truth. I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I did.
“The President in Washington sends word that he wishes to buy our land. But how can you buy or sell the sky? The land? The idea is strange to us. If we do not own the freshness of the air and the sparkle of the water, how can you buy them?
If we sell you our land, remember that the air is precious to us, that the air shares its spirit with all the life that it supports. The wind that gave our grandfather his first breath also received his last sigh.
Your destiny is a mystery to us. What will happen when the buffalo are all slaughtered? The wild horses tamed? What will happen when the secret corners of the forest are heavy with the scent of many men and the view of the ripe hills is blotted with talking wires? Where will the thicket be? Gone! Where will the eagle be? Gone! And what is to say goodbye to the swift pony and then hunt? The end of living and the beginning of survival.”
How ignorant we can be! When I think of all the times I have taken this life for granted and neglected to care for the beauty that surrounds me, my heart grows heavy with shame. This morning as I was flipping through my pocket Bible I stumbled upon these words in Job (38: 28-33),
“Does the rain have a father? Who gives birth to the dew? Who is the mother of ice? Who gives birth to the frost from the heavens? For the water turns to ice as hard as rock, and the surface of the water freezes.
Can you direct the movement of the stars- binding the cluster of Pleiades or loosening the cords of Orion? Can you direct the sequence of seasons or guide the Bear with her cubs across the heavens? Do you know the laws of the universe? Can you use them to regulate the earth?”
Job’s response is quite humorous and appropriate, “I am nothing-how could I ever find the answers? I will cover my mouth with my hand. I have said too much already. I have nothing more to say.” (Job 40:3-5).
I am like Job, I lack wisdom and understanding. I am baffled by the ways of the Universe, the wonderment of nature and Creation. I can be arrogant and ignorant, lacking awareness and appreciation for my surroundings. Yet, I want to start living instead of surviving. I want to notice the thicket, the eagle, the open night sky lit up with the constellations of heaven before they fade away.