You have an aging grandmother. She’s been travailing for some time but on your visits now you notice more troubling signs. Her breathing is a little more laboured, there’s more stiffness in her movements. But perhaps what troubles you more than anything is how the light in her eyes is growing dimmer.
You know that she will have some difficult days ahead. You’ve accepted the natural changes that happens to a body. You know that what ever you do, changes will come, her passing will come, but this has no bearing on your desire to go out of your way to make her time as beautiful as possible.
You know what to do. You bring her fresh flowers, especially lilacs in spring. You straighten out her room, open a window when the air is cool and sweet.
And you think, who knows, what you do may even extend her time. After all, you’ve seen old flashes of passion in her eyes when you talk of your trip to the coast. You’ve seen her longing when you show her pictures of you standing in waist high prairie grass–a meadowlark on a fence post in the background. You’ve heard her laughter when telling her the squirrel story. You’ve felt her desire, her compassion, and her resiliency to dig down and stay with you, when you talk about her great grandchildren. And you certainly stirred her attention when you talked of visiting regularly.
It’s true that her life is largely a mystery to you. It passes in a way you know nothing about. And yet it’s also true that you know her intimately. You recall the innocence and intimacy as she watched your cartwheels in the grass by the garden shed. The time you stood beside the row of lilacs, smiling, not saying a word, a slow breeze wrapping you both in purple fragrance. And later, sharing a bowl of her sweet-as-syrup crab apples she had canned the previous fall. These things you know about. And they will stay.
Years ago, when you were younger, she gave you gifts–crayons and a colouring book, some coins to buy a fudgesicle. And you were always careful to say thank you.
Why now so ungrateful? Why is there a quarrel about caring for our earth? Why do we still resist moving toward a clean-power economy. We all agree resource exploitation has a limit but our actions belie this understanding. We continue to test the resiliency of the environment.
Why don’t we do as much as we can to make the earth comfortable? It may not respond, there are forces we can’t tabulate, graph, program in to our models. We may over estimate our ability to effectively reverse global warming, or climate change, but why wouldn’t we give it more than a half-hearted try? It may yet respond. Either way, it will change us.
Of course for this metaphor to work, you need to have loved your grandmother.