This was written during my first semester at college
I love living here at NIU. I do. I even enjoy walking to class. Walking doesn't fly out in podunk where I live, so I enjoy the leisurely stroll. And what I enjoy best about these jaunts is walking along the dirt paths.
If you are a student with me here at Northern, you've seen what I mean. If not, then I will elaborate on these tangent paths. These are the kind of paths that emerge when people, too lazy to use the sidewalk designed for efficiency by engineering majors, cut a corner to reach the sidewalk they were already on more quickly. Simple geometry.
Understand that I do not take these courses out of laziness. Quite the contrary. Verily, there are times when, at the end of the day after getting two PSYC lectures (one on how we suck as students and the other to learn something), I appreciate the opportunity to create brevity in my circa twenty minute walk. But my real reason is that when I walk over the dirt, I can truly feel the Earth beneath my feet. Hokey? Maybe. True? Emphatically.
When I walk along these paths, even through the thick soles of my boots, I feel connected to everything that walks the Earth along with me. I feel reassured. This Earth has stood since about three days into the beginning of time and will possibly be here long after I'm gone. I feel comforted to know that the Earth that nourishes the corn in these fields, the rice in China, the deer back home, a child in Africa, is there to support me. I feel connected and free.
Which brings me to one thing that I hate. During the day, there is the sun. Whatever is in the sky is clear and lovely, to be sure. I don't like the day as much, seeing as how the air is not nearly as olfactorily pleasing when the solar heat burns the air, but it is at least an honest sky. I often find myself walking home after dark, though, and increasingly during these progressively chilly nights. And during these nights I find one thing that unsettles me to the core of my being: I cannot see the stars. I live out in the country and have for several years. Not seeing the stars was something that just didn't happen. There were few, if any, lights on the ground to obscure your view of the heavens and I liked it that way. You could see the entire majesty of the entire universe in fine little flakes of light and it was liberating. But when I walk home I cannot see these illuminations. I look up at a steel sky that offers no respite. And when this coincides with asphalt under my feet, I suffocate. The "splendor" of man, manifested in his brilliant use of stone and the electrical light, have sundered me from Earth and Sky and at times like these I just can't stand it.
"Why" you ask? Simple. The early American poets and novelists, including Emerson and Thoreau, believed in Trancendentalism, nay, they created it. They believed that The Creator, God Himself in all His Glory, could be seen in his creations. This was especially true of nature. They thought that being in nature one could decode mysteries of the Allmighty and grow closer and more connected to a personal Saviour.
And mayhaps there is some truth to this.
When I see the stars and touch the Earth, I feel connected to God in Heaven and man on Earth. I am a small, small part of a larger universe and tapestry of life. I am a beloved chilld of God and a real component of His creation. So when I walk home alone on those cold nights, cut off from heaven and earth, I feel cut off from everything. Luckily, I can come back home and see the friends who live mere feet from me and I realize that, while out there the world may be concrete and smog and isolating humanity, there is still a God in Heaven and all is right in the world. I am still part of something larger and greater than myself.
And I look forward to going home so I can see the stars.