For the Beauty of the Earth

Black Balsalm Knob, Pisgah National Forest

Black Balsalm Knob, Pisgah National Forest

And this, our life, exempt from public haunt, finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks, sermons in stones, and good in everything. ~ William Shakespeare

All over the world today, people are celebrating Earth Day.

What began in 1970 as an American grassroots conservation movement led by Senator Gaylord Nelson has now become an international holiday celebrated by over a billion people (so sayeth The Writers Almanac). Several years earlier, a scientist named Rachel Carson wrote a book called Silent Spring, exposing the danger of pesticides and other regularly-used pollutants on the planet. I read Silent Spring my junior year at Clemson University, and wrote a paper on it for my one of my communications classes. My professor liked it so much, he suggested I submit it to an academic journal.

I never did–I barely knew what an academic journal was back then, let alone how wonderful it would’ve been for my future teaching career to have something published in one–but his enthusiasm and support of my writing and my positions in the paper was powerful.

I’ve always been a natural conservationist. You can’t be raised outside, freely roaming the mountains and creeks and your own neighborhood, without something like that happening. Early on I felt a wonder about nature, about plants and animals and the earth, that I’ve never shaken. I truly believe–in my physical and spiritual consciousness–that taking care of the planet, and all that means, is part of walking through this life with faith, honor, and hope. It’s so easy to do otherwise, isn’t it? Certainly, I don’t always get it right.

But I firmly believe that it’s all connected; that we’re all connected. That nature is ever-cyclical, and that heaven watches.

On this Earth Day, why don’t we all–wherever we are–take a moment to breathe. To look up at the stars or the sky. To admire the azaleas blooming fuchsia. To touch a leaf, plant a garden, buy a plant, petition for more greenways. To watch your kids, and how they interact with the Earth–how to them, a line of ants is so utterly cool. To acknowledge that we’re part of it all.

Lastly, in honor of Earth Day, some quotations from those who’ve said it much better than I:

“I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in.”  ~ John Muir, 1913

“Suburbia is where the developer bulldozes out the trees, then names the streets after them.”  ~ Bill Vaughn, 1987

“Humankind has not woven the web of life.  We are but one thread within it.  Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves.  All things are bound together.  All things connect.”  ~ Chief Seattle, 1855

There is a pleasure in the pathless woods,
There is a rapture on the lonely shore,
There is society, where none intrudes,
By the deep sea, and music in its roar:
I love not man the less, but Nature more.
~ George Gordon, Lord Byron, Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage

“Only when the last tree has died and the last river been poisoned and the last fish been caught will we realise we cannot eat money.”  ~ Cree Indian Proverb

“There is a great need for the introduction of new values in our society, where bigger is not necessarily better, where slower can be faster, and where less can be more.” ~ Gaylord Nelson

“There would be very little point in my exhausting myself and other conservationist themselves in trying to protect animals and habitats if we weren’t at the same time raising young people to be better stewards.” Dr. Jane Goodall

“I had assumed that the Earth, the spirit of the Earth, noticed exceptions — those who wantonly damage it and those who do not. But the Earth is wise. It has given itself into the keeping of all, and all are therefore accountable.” ~ Alice Walker

“The ultimate test of man’s conscience may be his willingness to sacrifice something today for future generations whose words of thanks will not be heard.” ~ Gaylord Nelson

For the beauty of the earth,
For the glory of the skies;
For the love which from our birth,
Over and around us lies;
Lord of all, to Thee we raise
This, our hymn of grateful praise.

For the wonder of each hour,
Of the day and of the night;
Hill and vale and tree and flow’r,
Sun and moon, and stars of light;
Lord of all, to Thee we raise
This, our hymn of grateful praise.

~ Folliott S. Pierpont, 1864

 

 

 

 

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