I Need the Earth
The field was a nursery bordered at the North by a stand of huge, old oaks who gave up their acorns to the rows of planted saplings and bushes of the groomed and watered plot and when I was a boy friends and I rode our bikes down the rows to quicken our retreat from the artery known as Wolf Road in the burg of Western Springs, named for the bubbling springs of years past and its western proximity to Chicago.
The field was a wonder to me and I still remember talking with chums about how impossible it was to imagine anything but trees on that pasture.
“They can’t mow down the trees because the tractors aren’t big enough,” I said. This was in 1961 and I was ten, riding a new, red Schwinn bicycle I received for my tenth birthday.
Those places and times instilled within me a pure, working belief that we are tenants of this earth, as Chief Seattle said, “The earth does not belong to us, we belong to the earth.”
In 1961 they broke ground for a new church on that field and I buried an acorn to remember the place. For some years the acorn grew then it was lost either to the weather, an animal or an uncaring foot on the way to Sunday services.
I believe I need the earth. I need to spend time with it, on its terms and in solitude. I believe that God left something of himself here and that it is sacred. A pebble, a robin, a creek – all precious, all to be respected.
I believe human beings are better because they know there is more than themselves. Without the earth and its influence people would shrivel and die in the neon, tin and tinsel…with the machine and the buttons and switches to turn on the hot, cold and feeling… of plastic and imitation.
I believe that life is a circle of God’s making. The earth is a presence. I believe I can understand God through the earth. I believe I am free because of the soils, the streams and the woods of acorns and squirrels and butterflies. I believe I am more human because I can touch the earth, feel the grass, listen to the frog and smell the lilac.
I believe I have a place in all this infinite variety, I am an individual and can apply the golden rule to the earth; I believe I can understand my neighbor through what I see on earth; can and do understand others in my relations to the earth, that I believe returns to all, as is given to it.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.