Friday, March 23, 2012

Day Trip for the Soul Part Two

From the quaintness of Blue Eye, Missouri, we continued north. The scenery remained beautiful, and we said good-bye to hilly roads as we joined the Interstate. It wasn't too long before we saw the signs for Joplin. It was a necessity for us to drive through, since we had not visited the town since the EF-5 tornado struck on May 22, 2011. We personally know many, many people who have volunteered time and effort to help the people of Joplin. Our community has really wrapped its arms around Joplin, as have many others across the nation. It was still a sight to see, although
there is so much rebuilding going on. There were some buildings that looked as though they had not been touched since the day they were destroyed. Had people lost hope and just left? The thing that is striking, though, is the trees. They look as though they have been sheared off at the tops. It's simply indescribable. Over 160 people were killed as a result of that tornado. I thought again of one of many heroes~ Jeff Taylor, a 31-year-old police officer from another city, who was working tornado disaster recovery on May 23. He was killed by a lightning strike while working to help others suffering from the deadly storm. He left behind a family, and a community who mourned him but honored his sacrifice. Driving through the city, we felt a solemn reminder of all we have to be thankful for, and that life is everything. Materials can be replaced.

A peaceful pond along the nature trail
The stream looked so perfect to explore
Heading back to the Interstate, we saw a sign for the National Monument for George Washington Carver. We Midwesterners recall that George was a famous Missourian who gave us the all important, delicious, nutritious idea for peanut butter. So we thought it fitting to go ahead and check out this monument. Would you have envisioned this as a large stone sculpture inscribed with nice words? I did. However, I was wrong. 

We had to drive several miles back into the gorgeous country to find ourselves at a building with the most wonderful museum inside. From the entryway, we followed the path outside that led us past an old graveyard (surrounded by stone walls to keep out livestock). Then we meandered on the nature trail, learning some things about George along the way. For instance, he used to wake at 4 a.m. to walk the woods, in meditation and prayer. The 1881 Moses Carver home was next on the path. Moses and Annie Carver raised George, and although George did not live in this exact home, he visited there during his school years. Finally, we came to the spot where George was actually born. It was a crude little wood foundation of a shack just to show the replica of George's birthplace. Since I have recently been absorbing lots of history, I was particularly touched by this story. George's mother, Mary, was an enslaved person, owned by Moses and Annie Carver. After the Civil War, there was a lot of unrest and violence around the state lines of Missouri. One night, raiders kidnapped Mary and the infant, George. Moses Carver hired a man, John Bentley, to locate them, but he was only able to find and return George. Whatever happened to his mother? George was also ill for much of his childhood. However, from this sad beginning, George was raised by the Carvers as one of their own children, and given great opportunities for education. He overcome race obstacles, and became the scientist who gave us the 101 uses for the peanut, among other inventions. 

We all ate a peanut butter cup as tribute to George as we left the monument. It was a different kind of reminder that even someone from the most humble and difficult beginnings can make an impact on the world. George gave all the credit to his Lord, with whom he spent much time each day. And it was an amazing God who gave us this sunset on our way home. What a day!

One of my favorite quotes came from Carver himself:

How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving and tolerant of the weak and strong. Because someday in your life you will have been all of these.


  1. Beautifully written! We are headed south in Missouri this weekend towards Truman Lake to enjoy nature and the beautiful gifts of Spring. You've inspired me to be even more thankful for life and the small wonders of our great Earth. Your post really brought tears to my eyes!