In 1842 Edgar Allan Poe wrote The Masque of the Red Death, a short story about Prince Praspero and his actions to avoid the latest pestilence in his country. He invites all his friends to an isolated abbey he owns, and there they celebrate their fortunes as the rest of the country suffers. However, at one of his balls, a stranger appears. In 1989 John McPhee wrote a book titled The Control of Nature which examines man and nature in three areas of the world: the Mississippi River Basin, Iceland, and Los Angeles. The section on Iceland looks at man and lava. In 1996 John Barry wrote Rising Tide, the story of the Army Corps of Engineers and its battle to control the Mississippi River to improve commerce.
When we moved to Lake Norman in August 2017, I noticed two day lily plants that, it seemed to me, had been planted in poor locations. They were next to a busy walkway and not much sunlight reached them. In the fall, I moved them to the other side of our screen porch where they would get more sun, and less traffic. For the past week I have watched them as they developed buds and they will soon open. I am excited to see what color they are, since they were here when we purchased the house. However, not aware of my excitement, they are taking their time to open into blooms. I am forced to wait to see if they will be bright yellow, orange, or a mixed red and white.
In today’s news, May 31, 2018, are reports of continued lava flows on Hawaii’s big island, flash floods over the Southeast, and in the mountains of North Carolina, where I live, one of many mud-slides destroyed parts of a gated community, and another mud slide closed I-40. All of this and not mentioned is Ellicott City, Maryland which has been virtually destroyed by its second flash flood since 2016.
The point is obvious: we cannot “gate out” disease or other dangers. We cannot “control” nature. However, we can control ourselves and how we choose to live, as stewards, in our still beautiful world. I just finished reading President Carter’s latest book, Faith, and he has hope for humans because we have the choice of our actions. His faith is deep in God, us, and himself. He believes in us because we are made in the image of God, and, to quote Reverend Churchill Gibson, “God does not make trash.”
Retired, I have the luxury of my time, and I have watched the two day lilies for a week. It is, in a manner, like watching paint dry, but they are moving at their mysterious speed, and nothing I can do will quicken that process. If that is true with two small plants in our garden, then it must be true with such giants as Kilauea, the Mississippi River, and fault lines in California. We can, and should, spend money and time and other resources to eradicate diseases, but we can’t run from them or other disasters.
We have free will. Let’s use it wisely.