The most logical thing I could think of doing today was to talk to a rock. This rock is part of the floor of the planet so it has been here for quite awhile and understands far better than I many of the important issues and events of the day. From sediment to fire to ice 10,000 feet thick, to time beyond measure and tens of thousands of sun rises and moon sets, the rock remains ready to speak when I’m ready to listen.
It knows that one seed, like the Milkweed I found near it, can germinate and over time result in thousands and thousands of offspring. The rock reminds me we have also seen the seeds of hate spreading this week—here in Montpelier, back in my hometown in Michigan and all across the country. In so many places hate has begun to surround family and friends on all sides.
The rock has watched as plants have filled every conceivable niche—Witch Hazel in full bloom just now to feed an end-of season honey bee much-needed pollen, and Tamarack golden and loosening its needles, so it will be ready to shed the coming snows and survive sub-zero weather. The rock reminds me we humans are seeing what happens when we forget we are only one small part of the planet rather than the masters of it. Many other creatures too will suffer in ways we cannot yet imagine.
The rock tells me it will be here, still in the company of the Milkweed, the Witch Hazel, Tamarack and a view of the hill and river beyond, long after we are gone. I’m listening, and invite President-elect Trump to sit for a while and talk with the rock.
You really hit a key point for me, John–thanks so much. I’ve never seen any indication that this man ever spends much time in the outdoors. Surrounded by ostentatious wealth, how could he hope to hear the slow, quiet voice of a rock?
Annie Dillard’s “Teaching a Stone to Talk” is one of my favorite small volumes, and that short essay has the same theme that you have shared. “A man whom she knows, in his 30’s, living alone in a shack on a cliff, keeps a palm-sized oval beach cobble on his shelf and performs a ritual several times a day to try to teach it to talk, which she thinks beats selling shoes. She doesn’t know what he expects or wants the stone to say – maybe a single word like ”uncle.” For her, what it eloquently speaks is silence, nature’s silence, which we are here on this earth to witness.”
That idea of witnessing–the power of truly paying attention–is what Stephen Jay Gould meant when he said that we are the universe aware of itself. Thank you for bearing witness to the rock and its surroundings.
I do hope so. There is a lot of wisdom to be found in nature.
Bravo John! Everyone needs to sit down and listen for a bit. We have all been assaulted by this disturbing election process, no matter who anyone voted for. It’s over. The earth will keep spinning, the sun will rise and set, and we will all survive. Just stop, be quiet and listen.
Thanks. I certainly agree it is time to take a breath and listen but, given the fast moving storm that is blowing into DC this week, I cannot be quiet even for a day. Sorry but many of my family and many more of my friends are deeply threatened. I don’t say this lightly—there are taunts, slurs, horrible graffiti,even physical attacks. If you supported Trump, I would ask you to call his office and ask him to step up and condemn these actions loudly and frequently and pledge to prosecute anyone who is guilty of these crimes. I’m not willing to listen to trash talk; I am very willing to listen to a different point of view and support it as I can.
I didn’t support Trump. I would have loved to have seen Bernie get elected, but I’m not going to get into a political discussion. Too many sides, too many opinions, and no one comes out the winner. My hope is that the new leadership will tone it down quite a bit. I agree that the abuse you speak of is unacceptable and wrong and should be stopped. I question the term civilized society as it doesn’t apply to the US lately. Very sad! My best to you and your family and friends.
Thanks for taking the time to read this blog and provide thoughtful responses.
Beautiful images, John. A reminder to consider the long view of nature in these troubling times – even as we must also pay full attention and try to counteract the hate and violence that is becoming even more prevalent.
Thanks Deb. The increase in hate and violence we will probably see for Mother Earth is absolutely terrifying, as you know having lived in the Marshall Islands where water literally laps at doorways, because it will affect everyone and everything.