It is only fitting that in the middle of this pandemic we celebrate “Earth Day.”
I learned this weekend by reading Maria Popova that Mary Shelley, author of Frankenstein, wrote a novel in 1826 about a pandemic and one person who survives, The Last Man. This last man standing ponders the question, “Why Live?” and answers: “Let us… seek peace… near the inland murmur of streams, and the gracious waving of trees, the beauteous vesture of earth, and sublime pageantry of the skies. Let us leave “life,” that we may live.”
Popova also reminds us that Whitman came up with a similar answer: “After you have exhausted what there is in business, politics, conviviality, love, and so on — have found that none of these finally satisfy, or permanently wear — what remains?” the American poet would ask and then answer: “Nature remains.”
Followers of the Pew know that in one of my darkest days I sought consolation in a church, but found it closed. However, as I returned to my car, I smelled something so sweet and divine that it made any thought of ending life ridiculous. I had come across a large batch of honeysuckle surrounding a park bench. I sat, and amongst the beauty and exquisite smell discovered the answer to why live. I call this experience my honeysuckle moment.
I don’t think that it is coincidence that at the height of the deadly pandemic as Popova says: “nature seems all the more quietly determined to affirm the resilience of life — spring arrives with its irrepressible bursts of beauty, untrammeled by human suffering and a supreme salve for it.”
Today if you can for a moment, and hour, or all day go outside and remind yourself why God created the earth and why we owe it to ourselves, our children, our neighbors, and God to preserve it.