Reflections IV or Healing

Gentle landscapes, fractured by time and money,
But now undisturbed as if back to Eden,
As if healing,
Recovering from centuries of restlessness.
Of course we had to take the fruit.
Our greed and our pride allowed for nothing less.
But in our absence, the garden regrows.
Clean waters flow forth, once held back by a barrier of industry,
As if the world could be perfect were it not for our filth.
How we crave the beauty of nature but love to pave over it.
How our greed gives a desire that can never be fulfilled.
Given all other vegetation the garden could offer
Humanity had to have the damning fruit.
And if nature could not provide the fullest imaginings of humanity,
Humanity could destroy nature to build it.
But nature too creates,
Painting pictures with clouds,
Erecting monuments with shifting plates,
Breathing life with life,
Air to breathe from nature's green.
Nature unshackled reclaims what it can,
But can it heal the destructive heart of man?
What is caged wants to be free.
When a prisoner in one's own home,
Humanity hurries to find the key to the lock.
Perhaps when we emerge from our private prisons
We may let the garden grow again.

Not unlike the other poems in Reflections, I poured a lot of religious imagery into this poem. This time, I decided to make the focus nature and how it is currently healing in our absence. Los Angeles has clean air, deer herds are taking to empty city streets, etc. It’s one of the few positives I have been able to see in this pandemic. I chose to compare humanity’s destruction of nature for material gain/ creating more space (horizontal building rather than vertical building) to the story of the fall of humanity in the Hebrew Testament which I see as largely allegorical. God grants man permission to eat fruit of any tree with one restriction. One can certainly place the majority of the blame on the serpent in the story and the idea that the serpent tricked man into eating the fruit with a half-truth. But this would be denying humanity’s role in the story. Ultimately, the serpent is only an influencer and could only get as far as Adam and Eve let it. The details in the story are clear enough that Adam and Eve had access to any fruit they wanted with the exception of the fruit grown on the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. This was forbidden. Out of it all, only one was restricted. However, humanity had to have it all. The other fruit was not enough. This is what connects the first sin in the Bible to all of the other various types of sin, a true birthplace of sin if you will. Greed, pride, lust, gluttony, it is all found in this one sin (Greed in humanity’s wanting of all, pride in humanity’s influenced belief that humanity can break God’s rules, lust in humanity’s wanting of this one particular fruit after being influenced, etc). It is what makes the forbidden fruit such a great device to introduce this concept of sin. Of course, when Adam and Eve eat of the forbidden fruit, their eyes are truly opened and they understand the error which makes them fearful. And, if we look around and see the steps we have taken with industry, with the way we pollute, etc and think about nature as a gift, we are basically echoing the fall of man daily. What is worse, we often do not give it a second thought. Often times, it may be so far removed from us that we either forget that pollution exists or fail to realize that we can have an impact in changing things for the better. The Earth is our home, but we treat it like a waste-paper basket. Why? Because we are striving for the next opportunity to make money, we blatantly disregard the consequences, we tend to idolize industry, etc. When we (me, my fiancee, her family) were put in a shelter-in-place order in Fort Worth, TX, there was a sinking feeling that came over me. The company was great, warm, welcoming, but I was and still am hundreds of miles away from my family, from my cat, from my friends. Yet, on clear days, I’m not sure I’ve ever seen the trees in the same light as I have during this time. The grass seems greener. Life is flourishing once again, in a time when we are not there to muck it up. One of the most painful parts is seeing a beautiful day and not being able to go out to a park and enjoy it. And I realize that for so long I have taken beautiful days for granted. But now, when I realize that my interaction with nature is sometimes detrimental to nature, I wonder whether when all of this is over and we are allowed to go out and enjoy life once more we will take measures to decrease our stranglehold of nature. I wonder whether we will appreciate that nature is healing and allow it to continue to heal. I’m not the type of person who thinks that everything we do is bad and that everyone should just get rid of their truck or SUV in favor of biking to work everyday (although, if you live close enough to your place of employment, why not?). But I do think that there are things we do daily that we ought to take a second glance at. One might think that an act as small as tossing a plastic wrapper out the window of a car might seem like a singular event or tiny in comparison to other forms of pollution. But then there is the realization that the plastic could end up in the belly of an animal, possibly even an animal on the verge of extinction. Likely, if someone tosses trash out of their vehicle window, it is not a singular event. And why not take a bit of good pride in where we live? Why not want nature to be beautiful? Decreasing these bad habits may seem small, but in the long term and amongst a large population, it can make a powerful impact. I know that, from now on, I will be thinking a lot about the impact I personally have on nature and doing what I can to reduce my negative impact on the environment.

The image I chose for this was taken by me at Blanchard Springs Caverns. The scenery there is amazing.

This writing is the work of its author, Andrew Ryan Duckworth, and can in no way be reproduced, copied, or distributed in any form without request from the author.

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