In the following piece, Martin Tupper eloquently describes the intricate process of how nature rebuilds itself, and in analogy, how our minds grow, mature and expand.
“Man is proud of his mind, boasting that it gives him divinity,
Yet with all its powers it can originate nothing;
For the great God has poured into all his works richly;
Except for one special property, the grand prerogative --- Creation.
To improve and expand is ours, as well as to limit and defeat;
But to create a thought or a thing is hopeless and impossible.
The following illustration about a large reef that was broken off, swept to shore, there to die and lay barren and its subsequent re-birth, will help us understand.
The Barren Reef
Behold the barren reef, which an earthquake has just left dry;
It has no beauty to boast of, no harvest of fair fruits:
But soon the lichen fixes there, and dying, digs its own grave,
And softening suns and splitting frosts crumble the reluctant surface;
And cormorants roost there, and the snail adds its slime,
And newts, with muddy feet, bring their welcome tribute;
And the sea casts out her dead, wrapped in a shroud of weeds;
And orderly nature arranges again the disunited atoms;
And in a short time, the cold smooth stone is warm with feathery grass,
And the light spores of the fern are dropt by the passing wind,
The wood-pigeon, on swift wing, leaves its crop-full of grain,
The squirrel’s jealous care plants the fir-cone and the filbert:
Years pass, and the sterile rock is rank with tangled herbage;
The wild-vine clings to the brier, and the ivy runs green among the corn,
And the tall pine and hazel-thicket shade the rambling hunter.
With all this outside influence shall the rock boast of its fertility? Shall it lift the head in pride?
So in like manner, shall the mind of man be vain of the harvest of its thoughts?
The soil may be rich, and the mind may be active, but neither yield unsown;
The Bible proclaims, “There is nothing new under the sun:
We only arrange and combine the ancient elements of all things;
For man, it is his lot to find out things that are,
Not to create the non-existent.
The globe knows not increase, either of matter or spirit;
Atoms and thoughts are used again, mixing in varied combinations;
And though, by molding them anew, you make them your own,
Yet have they served thousands before you, and all their merit is of God.
I like this so much because it helps me understand the importance of lifting our heads to the world around us, and drawing in the good from everywhere we can. Let our mind be ever so fertile, if we don’t sow seeds of truth, virtue, and goodness in our minds, we will be dwarfed.