I’ve Been All Around This World

One instant of light...

Sorry, those lyrics–familiar from the Grateful Dead (but borrowed by them from Grampa Jones and earlier artists) come to mind this morning, after I’ve rambled since 4 a.m. across a wide swath of things and finally come back to home for a bit.

The general realm I’ve wandered in this morning is “stewardship” because I’m coming to the conclusion that it is a word that wraps around a good bit of my writing since its beginning in 2002.

I’ve described my general scope as “relationships”–to nature, to the landscapes of our lives, and to the riches we have in each other in community. I’ve described my efforts as “wanting to comprehend a personal ecology.”

But at its root, the writing that means most to me arises from a deep-seated need to give back, and too, from a sense of obligation in my time and place that is the opposite of dominion, the opposite of ownership.

A definition I’ve cobbled together would have it that stewardship is morally responsible and careful management of time, talents, money or other resources entrusted to one’s care, especially with respect to the principles or needs of a community or group.

My hoped-for destination would arrive at a land-and-people ethic better understood. Hints of it come to me both innately, seemingly hard-wired into me from my youth, and from a learned understanding of who we are and what our duties and earth-care responsibilities are from a Christian perspective. But I have much to learn here, and then, maybe, to share.

E. O. Wilson, in this two minute clip, has it right: we must regain our awe for the incredible workings of those elements of earth as elemental as earth–as soil–and stop taking for granted how great a debt we owe the environmental services that sustain us.

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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