Tonight I went with a long-time friend to hear Terry Tempest Williams at Magers & Quinn, Minneapolis' finest independent bookstore. She was there to talk about her book, The Hour of Land: A Personal Topography of America's National Parks, which came out last year, but also to talk about much more. You might say it was a heart-to-heart talk between Terry and the 150 or so people gathered there, whom she talked to like we were her best friends.
She said that each of us must take the gifts that are ours and sharpen them, deepen them, and use them, each in our own place. She then spoke about the need to protect our National Parks and Monuments, particularly given the current political climate. She told us that after the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln designated Yosemite as the first National Park with the rationale being that a place of such beauty could help heal a divided nation.
I haven't read the book yet, but here's a section from a peak inside the chapter on Gulf Islands National Seashore, a place in my home state of Florida:
"Heading back toward Alabama, we take a turn over Cat Island and Horn Island, part of the Gulf Island National Seashore, each of whose seven islands have been affected by the spill. But on this day we see through the emerald waters to crystalline sands. I realize it is not the devastation of the oil that has undone me, but the beauty that remains. Constellations of cownosed rays speckle the sea with brown-red diamonds. Pods of dolphins race ahead of us. Tom sees a large shark that we miss. And schools of shimmering fish congregate in the shallow turquoise waters closer to shore."
I'm thinking that the place to use the gifts that are ours, sharpened and deepened, isn't the same for everyone, and I am also thinking, along with Williams, that each of us has a place in cultivating or protecting something that heals, in cultivating or protecting something of beauty.
[Photo: taken on Cape Cod National Seashore.]