Every year, one of our staff members sends me the important dates of the year so that we can think about writing blogs that align with the calendar and what people are naturally thinking and going through. You know, major holidays and events like July 4th, Halloween, and 9/11.
Every year, Earth Day is included on the list. And every year, I see it and it makes me smile. I remember some of the past Earth Day blogs we’ve done. But I also kind of think to myself, “those were great, but we probably won’t do one again”. Yet, here we are. Another Earth Day blog.
Nature and Man
I think one of the reasons I’ve enjoyed writing about the Earth is because there is so much going on with people and human institutions. It is so complex and messy. Nature, on the other hand, finds a way to be complex and beautiful. It’s diversity is a cause for celebration. There is a simplicity, a purity, in the natural world that we are slowly losing touch with. Not in a hippie sort of way; what I mean is, we are part of the natural world too and are meant to be as majestic, mysterious, and awe-inspiring as the geological formations, pristine beaches, and fascinating wildlife. I know nature has its own versions of disasters and can be a hot mess in and of itself. It is, indeed, a metaphor for our lives. And a manifestation of life itself.
I am not a “nature guy”. I don’t love the outdoors. We live in New York City and I am not the kind of New Yorker who is constantly complaining about the city and wishing I could be someplace with more trees. I love the city and wouldn’t trade it for anything. It, also, is a manifestation of life. As beautiful as the mountains and rivers and canyons, in its own way.
On the other hand, Kylie, my wife, is definitely a “nature girl”. She has a forest of plants in our NYC apartment, loves hiking, and even minored in horticulture in college. I’ve learned some things about nature, and myself, because of her leading. And this year, this Earth Day, I want to share two insights into the natural world that I discovered for the first time this year.
During the pandemic lockdown, the tail end of it, a friend walked by our apartment and left us some flowers to put in our window. One was a morning glory vine and although I had heard about the flower, I didn’t really know how they work.
A morning glory flower blooms for just a few hours in the early part of the day. On blooming day, it unfolds a radiant purple (ours was purple at least) and spends the pre-noon hours reaching for the sun, leaning towards its refreshing rays. By mid-afternoon, it is closing up. The bud spent. It’s time of revealed beauty short, but magnificent.
The whole thing reminds me of what it means to be human. Such a relatively short amount of time. Over before you know it. But filled with radiant beauty and an opportunity to soak up the sun.
Our Morning Glory vine, we named her Phyllis, climbed and reached all over our window, little buds blooming a day here and a day there in mid-summer. An inspiration to be mindful of my short time, to pay attention to where I am leaning, and to appreciate that I am just a speck in the cosmic story yet invited into something as extraordinary as glory.
We moved into a new apartment in November and had a lot more space for plants. Did you know you can clip off a little part of an existing plant, put it in a little tube of water and it might, just might, grow roots and its own limbs and slowly become its own autonomous plant?
We’ve found (and were gifted) some propagating bulbs – just a fancy tube that holds water. We’ve clipped little branches from a friend’s plant, a student who left their plant here for winter break, and an English Ivy we walked by near Prospect Park! And all of them are now in our apartment, growing into a life form all their own.
Propagation reminds me of what it means to be in community. The value of learning from others. We take (or rather, they give) a little of who they are, what they know/think, and what they’ve experienced to us. It seeds and germinates within us until it becomes a part of who we are, affecting us to the core. And they are no worse for the wear. They grow back what they have given, sometimes abundantly. So that, in sacrificing for one another, very little is lost. The loss is short term, temporary. In the end, everyone is better off.
As Kylie continues to introduce me to the world of plants and Earth Day continues to creep up on me, I’ll continue to share what I’m discovering in the world of nature and what it helps me see about the world of man.