NOTE: Etta is in my creative writing class and her essay seems very appropriate follow up for Earth Day and COVID issues. Thanx, Etta!
I have read and reread Maya Angelou’s poem “On The Pulse of Morning” that she read at Bill Clinton’s first inaugural in 1993. In that poem she speaks of a Rock, a River and a Tree, metaphors for our existence here on earth. I have found it truly inspirational and I would like to transpose those elements to ruminate on what we have learned in this past year of a sequestered life due to the pandemic.
Let me start with the Tree, stalwart, long lived, perhaps as long as 200 years or even more. The roots grow deep within the soil spreading out in all directions, unseen and exceedingly strong. It stands tall, proud and majestic but beyond its beauty it has a purpose. It serves to keep our forests temperate, shelters other living creatures, and helps to purify the air we breathe.
The River tends to wend its way uniting one community to another. It provides water for our sustenance, can be recreational and is a spawning place for a variety of precious species of life. Even as we contemplate its beauty, rippling and sparkling in the sun, does it not remind us of the many tears that have been shed, the many friends and relatives who will never again be able to experience this simple pleasure?
Now we come to the Rock, sedentary and almost indestructible. And that’s where we humans come into the picture. For a solid year we have been living sheltered beneath a rock. We are just beginning to crawl out from under. We are learning to congregate with other human beings. We have been self-absorbed, but have had time to contemplate. For the lack of so many creature comforts, we have a new appreciation of what life is about. Will we ever shake another hand, kiss a baby, attend a concert, a play or a movie without remembering what it was like when we were deprived of these commonplace things? Will we still feel the weight of the rock on our back because we are privileged enough to have survived? I think you will agree, it has been a hard lesson to learn, but all the more precious.