One of the most vital and shocking lessons in my life came just a month after I met Grandfather. Rick, Grandfather and I were in the back yard of my house when Grandfather asked me to get him a flat spade. In short order I returned with the spade and Grandfather proceeded to dig up a cubic foot of Earth, just at the border of my yard and the pine forest. He then transferred the block of Earth to my folks picnic table and told Rick and I to begin at the top and study each layer of Earth. We began with the debris and began to slowly dissect the leaf litter and tiny grasses. We spend hours slowly pulling apart the Earth, setting each layer on a different end of the picnic table. We were utterly spellbound with what we discovered.
Finally as the day grew late we had reached the bottom of the cube of Earth. We were beside ourselves with the joys of discovery. Layer after layer revealed its secrets and we were amazed at how intricate the small cube of Earth really was. Just as we finished, Grandfather showed back up and told us to put the cube of Earth back together and return it to the place where it was dug up. We laughed thinking that Grandfather was joking, but with the tone of his voice and the look he gave us we realized that he was not joking at all but dead serious. As Grandfather watched we tried to put the cube of Earth back together as we had found it. We spend the better part of two hours trying to do so but no matter how hared we tried we couldn’t get it back together the way we found it.
Grandfather eventually told us to stop for it was obvious that we couldn’t get the cube of Earth back the way it was. He helped us scrape everything together and transport it to the hole it had come from. As we returned the Earth and tried to camouflage the scar, Grandfather prayed for the Earth for teaching us such a profound and moving lesson. Grandfather then said, “you see how easy it is to harm the Earth but you have found that it can’t be put back together the way you found it. This is the problem with people today. They can easily destroy the Earth but only the Earth can heal Herself, we destroy but we can’t undue the scars we place upon the Earth.”
That lesson still haunts me to this day. Since the spring of 1957 I’ve carried that lesson deep in my heart. I’ve taught it to so many people and especially children. So as most of you are still under the stay at home order this is a great project to do with your kids. Even adults are moved by the far reaching significance of the exercise so much so that without even saying anything more they will have learned a vital lesson. They will also become as fascinated and thrilled as I was with finding so many hidden secrets in just a cubic foot of Earth. Enjoy!!
Blessings and In Medicine, Tom