That it’s rough out there and chancy is no surprise. Every live thing is a survivor on a kind of extended emergency bivouac. But at the same time we are also created. In the Koran, Allah asks, “The heaven and the earth and all in between, thinkest thou I made them in jest?” It’s a good question.
John Elder On The Wild Places Close To Home
But to find the sacred only in the wilderness would be like finding it only in a beautiful church on Easter. Unless the sacred is imbued in your day-to-day life, in your work, in the food on your table, in the attitude you take toward the health of your own community, its value is limited.
When I was twenty-four years old, it looked to me as if America were coming down. It was 1979, and there was runaway inflation, long lines for gasoline, a nuclear disaster at Three Mile Island. Men were curling their hair and wearing high-heeled shoes, and the Soviets were still poised to bomb us off the map.
After my parents lost our farm and we moved into town, I started attending an evangelical Quaker church with my friend Brad. I wasn’t sure I liked it at first, but as the months passed with my mom and dad rarely speaking, I did start to find something like peace when I prayed.
I’m sorry I gave it away, that nightstand you made for me so many years ago. Well, you didn’t really make it; you revised it. You found the battered table at a garage sale, saw its potential (its “good bones,” as you often said of imperfect things), and somehow — in secret, in the basement — sanded down the wood, puttied every hole, fixed the drawer, and added a shim to make it level.
My sister Melanie won’t let me help with the time capsule we’re making. Four years older and in junior high now, she likes to boss me around. She’s searching the attic for things to put in the box when I give up and head down the stairs. I take the last three steps in one giant jump, then wish someone had seen me.
We all lurched forward when Mama braked and the car crunched to a sudden stop midway up our gravel drive. Following her gaze, we stared next door at the crisp green lawn of the Lee family. A wooden sign with red and blue letters hung across their side porch. It read, Welcome Home Walter, with small white stars across the bottom.