Sunday, March 18, 2012

Walking Path



America the Beautiful

Words by Katharine Lee Bates,
Melody by Samuel Ward



O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

O beautiful for pilgrim feet
Whose stern impassioned stress
A thoroughfare of freedom beat
Across the wilderness!
America! America!
God mend thine every flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law!

O beautiful for heroes proved
In liberating strife.
Who more than self their country loved
And mercy more than life!
America! America!
May God thy gold refine
Till all success be nobleness
And every gain divine!

O beautiful for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam
Undimmed by human tears!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

O beautiful for halcyon skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the enameled plain!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
Till souls wax fair as earth and air
And music-hearted sea!

O beautiful for pilgrims feet,
Whose stem impassioned stress
A thoroughfare for freedom beat
Across the wilderness!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
Till paths be wrought through
wilds of thought

By pilgrim foot and knee!
O beautiful for glory-tale
Of liberating strife
When once and twice,
for man's avail
Men lavished precious life!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee

Till selfish gain no longer stain
The banner of the free!
O beautiful for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam
Undimmed by human tears!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
Till nobler men keep once again
Thy whiter jubilee!

Twenty-two years ago, traveling across these great United States, I witnessed first hand the "beautiful for spacious skies” and the "amber waves of grain" as we traveled across this nation in a 1989 Toyota Tercel pulling a trailer with every worldly possession we had not sold. Our trek began in Ohio.

Crossing into the state of Kentucky our then ten year old son sat bolt upright and stated, “Hey! This grass isn’t blue!” Amusing as that was, the grass was the deepest, darkest green with rolling hills and horses lounging in the pasture. We traveled on into Tennessee and found a campsite near Nashville. We had to pack it up and head to a truck stop when a tornado threatened the area! When the warning passed we went back and set up again. Most of the other campers were actually playing guitars and singing, hoping for a break into the Country Music scene.

We traveled further south to Arkansas to visit family before heading on West. We had a wonderful visit and learned most males in that area had two names, i.e. Joe Paul, Billy Bob, etc. To this day I can’t tell you where we were when we first began to hear the southern drawl, "Ya’ll want grits with breakfast?”

I would have loved being a girl raised in the south (G.R.I.T.S.). I love some of the southern euphemisms; “Bless her heart!"  "Ya’ll fixin’ to go to town?” and not to forget he plural “All ya’ll”.

When leaving southern Arkansas the next state was Texas. It seemed to go on and on for days and days! It appeared to be the flattest land in the continental United States! Husband said while stationed at Lackland AFB, the saying was you could go A.W.O.L. and still be seen for three days in any direction.

We began traveling north from Texas and into the state of Oklahoma for a very short period. We stopped at Fort Sill to absorb some of the history and local legend. As we were on no specific time schedule, we headed to Kansas where we were able to see the "fruited plains and amber waves of grain". This land too appeared flat and quite frightening when the storm clouds gathered.

Next our trip took us to Colorado where we decided to pickup Interstate 70. We began to see the "purple mountains majesty" and the signs warning about high winds… all while in a Toyota Tercel, pulling a trailer with all our worldly goods… After fighting to stay on the highway that was frequented by many trucks and the high winds, we decided another route south might be best. We were heading to Interstate 40 and traveled into New Mexico and it truly lived up to its name of “The Land of Enchantment” such wonder and beauty I had never seen.

After the enchantment of New Mexico we entered North Eastern Arizona and searched out Arizona State Highway 666 (now renumbered as State Highway 191). We came to the community of Springerville in the early evening. I called my mother who lived in the mining community of Morenci. The conversation went somewhat like this: “Mom! We’re in Spingerville and it’s only a bit more than 100 miles! We’ll be there tonight.” The reply was, “Get a room and start out in the morning. Trust me on this, start in the morning.” So we did. In retrospect I am so glad we did!

Hwy. 666 was evil! It climbed, snaked through an area that had signs stating “highway not maintained past this point.” There were no guard rails and other signs warning that semis and trailers over 20 feet in length were prohibited. There were hairpin turns, cattle on the road, Husband driving one handed saying, “Did you see that elk?” while pointing with the other. I knew we were going to die on this road! Even though we no longer have that Toyota Tercel (without air conditioning that we were moving to Arizona in…) I’m sure my fingernail impressions are still embedded in the passenger’s seat! Our son sat in the back with a blanket over his head! It was that scary!

When we finally topped the incline and began the downward trek into Morenci, I saw it: the huge open pit mine. I looked at Husband and said, “They’ve raped the earth!” It was one of the most horrific sight I had ever seen. I was appalled at what man had done to the land! Then we arrived in Morenci, my Mom met us and led the way to her home. The mining community looked the same to me wherever we went. Small homes built on terraced land all owned by Phelps Dodge (and now by Freeport McMoRan).

After arriving in town you are struck by the “tailings” from the mining effort. Tailings, also called mine dumps, slimes, tails, refuse, leach residue, or slickens, are the materials left over after the process of separating the valuable fraction from the uneconomic fraction of an ore – in this case copper.

Then, without warning you become blind to all this. Isn’t that like the complacent Christian, who is oblivious to sin in their life, because most certainly they are not like that person over there, are they?

After staying with my Mom for awhile we relocated to the Safford-Thatcher area and remain here to this day – almost twenty two years later!

Today, Husband returns from his “Walk to Emmaus”. He’s been gone since Thursday. My “Walk” begins this coming Thursday. Stay tuned for more details!


Tamara

PS  4 Make me know Your ways, O LORD;
Teach me Your paths.