The heat of the blazing bonfire before me competes in intensity with the melting sherbet hues of the setting sun on the horizon just beyond it. I'm snuggled in a lawn chair, comparing and contemplating each, when my daughter begs me to chase after lightning bugs with her. We are visiting friends at their lake property in the Midwest. Bugs that intermittently punctuate the dusky skies with flashes of light are a novelty for my California-born children. She extends her hand to pull me from the comfort of my chair. I cannot resist.
We chase the fleeting and elusive bugs into tall grass and up on top of the neatly stacked hay bales. At last, she catches her prey, and we race back to the gathering at the bonfire to display her prize. She receives accolades to her satisfaction, then sets the little guy free, and he speeds away into the night.
I reclaim my lawn chair, and I tune back into the ongoing conversation around the fire. Our friend is explaining that a neighboring farmer rents some of his land. The farmer has has planted these miracle beans which are the only thing that survives the deadly herbicide the farmer sprays on the land.
I feel as if I've been punched in the stomach, with the wind completely knocked out of me. My dreams of quiet contemplation are extinguished, and I squeeze back heavy tears. I recall the front field where my daughter and I had carefully avoided trampling the sweet little plants, barely three inches tall, when we were chasing lightning bugs. In the fading light of early dusk, that field appeared a sleepy nursery full of drowsy green heads, bobbing in the breeze like babies so sleepy they can no longer hold their heads up.
Cast now in the shadow of my dislike and distrust of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), it appears to me as a battlefield, one where my friend's desire to pay for his property, the farmer's desire to make a living off the land, the local wildlife's desire for uncontaminated food and water, and the desire of people like me who want food from heirloom crops, confront each other with weapons drawn.
Those sweet little plants, waving in the evening breeze, are undisturbed by the drama of it all. They are simply doing and being as Nature intended: establishing roots in the soil, taking moisture and nutrients up their roots, mixing with sunshine to create the food they need to grow.
They are not cursing their lot for their clinical and calculated derivation in a laboratory. They are not ruing the lack of diversity in their field. They hold no grudges against anti-GMO people like me. They greet me as pleasantly as they do the sun, the moon and the stars.
In my heart, I hold us all in Oneness, as well. Though different in form, we are all born of the Divine; we are are all created in the likeness and Image of God. Who am I to judge these cheery plants who have extended such a welcome greeting?
That is not to say I choose now to eat them, more any of their other genetically modified friends. Nor will I now support the cultivation of food that requires the application of chemicals which poison the earth and other life forms. Yet my quarrel is not with these peaceful plants.
I wander back out to the bean field and sit
amongst them, enjoying peaceful contemplation, after all. I say a prayer, extending a blessing for all life, and I know I am blessed in return. We, these little plants and I are one in the One, after all.