Shufﬂing along behind my rolling wheels I sighted on the horizon another monolith in the Nebraska corn ﬁelds. For miles it kept impressively expanding in volume … another big box involved with the immense corn monoculture surrounding me. When I reached a distance where signs were visible I saw it was a Proctor & Gamble facility. The enormous structure produced major brands of pet food. In these ﬁelds of corn exist enormous production facilities with names like Monsanto, and Pioneer, huge ethanol plants with their big shiny tanks and grain elevators reaching skyward like temples on the prairie. I was contemplating … where do we ﬁt in? We Humans from the shrinking world of small towns and life on a much smaller “human” scale. There are no big parking lots with employees around these places. I’m daydreaming that someone could be sitting in a chair far from here pushing the necessary buttons to manufacture the next forty tons of a dogs favorite chow.
At that moment I looked behind me to see a well used blue Prius casually roll up to a mail box on the other side of the road. It was a rural mail carrier working his route. This gray haired carrier pulled forward a few yards to the next mail box. ” Hey you walking for a cause or just walking.” “Climate action” I said, adding; “Nice having a Prius for your route?” More small talk ensued as my buggy rolled forward on one side of the highway and his Prius moved ahead to the next mail box. Then an unexpected offer: “Hey, where you staying?” “Aurora” I said. “A motel tonight.”
“You can stay at my house if you like. There’s plenty of room.” “Okay.” I said. Question to the reader … Would you think about offering a roof and a bed to a stranger? Second Question to the reader; Would you accept one from a stranger? We have comfort zones we carry wherever we go … including these empty corn ﬁelds of Nebraska. It’s a gift to sense the right time to exercise that bit of faith you carry and rarely use. I couldn’t know what a great experience I had in store.
John was sharing his faith, his families home, and his time with a stranger. I ﬁnd that act quite encouraging in these times of fear and self concerns. I hope I can find a time and place to share that kind of faith. It proved a valued exchange. Home, beautiful gardens, bookshelves filled with comparative studies in religion, poetry, and the arts … and on the coffee table a copy of Wendell Berry’s work. Where am I? Oh yes… Aurora, Nebraska. It seemed like such a long time since I had felt at home. For a few hours in Aurora I was at home.
As I said, why I was here had something to do with faith. John Is a member of the Bahai community and his beliefs lean heavily on acts of good will to others… just as we Christians. I saw in the hours spent with John that his life in small town Nebraska was the antithesis of the monolith I had studied that afternoon in the fields of corn. Here was someone very “human” who loved his vegetable garden, could let the house projects slide and live a minimalist life with such grace as to make one like me doubt his current walk to its very core.
On climate change John had this thought. “Even if excessive carbon in our atmosphere wasn’t the issue it is to our planets future, I would still want us to change our reckless use of fossil fuels because they are finite. It isn’t acceptable stewardship to deplete a resource for ones immediate appetite.
Thanks John. Hope we pass again someday