School’d

In 1867, 29 year old John Muir decided to walk from Indiana to the Gulf of Mexico, making botanical observations.  In the Cumberland Mountains of Tennessee, he  knocks on the door of a farmhouse:

My knock on the door was answered by a bright, good-natured, good-looking little woman, who in reply to my request for a night’s lodging and food, said “Oh, I guess so.  I think you can stay.  Come in and I’ll call my husband.”  “But I must first warn you,” I said, “that I have nothing smaller to offer you than a five-dollar bill for my entertainment.  I don’t want you to think that I am trying to impose on your hospitality.”

She then called her husband, a blacksmith, who was at work at his forge.  He came out, hammer in hand, bare-breasted, sweaty, begrimed, and covered with shaggy black hair.  In reply to his wife’s statement, that this young man wished to stop over night, he quickly replied, “That’s all right; tell him to go into the house.”  He was turning to go back to his shop, when his wife added, “But he says he hasn’t any change to pay.  He has nothing smaller than a five-dollar bill.”  Hesitating only a moment, he turned on his heel and said, “Tell him to go into the house.  A man that comes right out like that beforehand is welcome to eat my bread.”

When he came in after his hard day’s work and sat down to dinner, he solemnly asked a blessing on the frugal meal, consisting solely of corn bread and bacon.  Then, looking across the table at me, he said, “Young man, what are you doing down here?”  I replied that I was looking at plants.  “Plants?  What kind of plants?” I said, “Oh, all kinds; grass, weeds, flowers, trees, mosses, ferns – almost everything that grows is interesting to me.”

“Well, young man,” he queried, “you mean to say that you are not employed by the Government on some private business?”  “No, I said, “I am not employed by any one except just myself.  I love all kinds of plants, and I came down here to these Southern States to get acquainted with as many of them as possible.”

“You look like a strong-minded man,” he replied, “and surely you are able to do something better than wander over the country and look at weeds and blossoms.  These are hard times, and real work is required of every man that is able.  Picking up blossoms doesn’t seem to be a man’s work at all in any kind of times.”

To this I replied, “You are a believer in the Bible, are you not?”  “Oh, yes.”  “Well, you know Solomon was a strong-minded man, and he is generally believed to have been the very wisest man the world ever saw, and yet he considered it was worth while to study plants; not only to go and pick them up as I am doing, but to study them; and you know we are told that he wrote a book about plants, not only of the great cedars of Lebanon, but of little bits of things growing in the cracks of the walls.

“Therefore, you see that Solomon differed very much more from you than from me in this matter.  I’ll warrant you he had many a long ramble in the mountains of Judea, and had he been a Yankee he would likely have visited every weed in the land.  And again, do you not remember that Christ told his disciples to ‘consider the lilies how they grow,’ and compared their beauty with Solomon in all his glory?  Now, whose advice am I to take, yours or Christ’s?  Christ says, ‘Consider the lilies.’  You say, ‘Don’t consider them.  It isn’t worth while for any strong-minded man.'”

What do you think happens next?

a) The blacksmith beats up John Muir

or

b) “This evidently satisfied him, and he acknowledged that he had never thought of blossoms in that way before.”



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