Monday, May 02, 2005

If the moon were my sister...

Some of you may remember from a previous post that my sister is a planetary scientist. Recently, she participated in several meetings with colleagues about how Native Americans view science; specifically, the very different and special view native people have about the universe--the moon, the planets, the stars, etc.--being a part of a very large, loving family. Here is her response to one woman's teaching about this sujbect. When this woman read it, she was moved to tears. I felt that it was so poignant and lovely that I had to post it. Plus, she is my sister, so she gets special privileges. :-)


Suddenly I feel very guilty that I've never visited. Just allowed
myself to be content with postcard meteorites sent in the mail,
and pictures from afar. The postcards remind me that there are
things we will never understand about ourselves, if we do not make
the effort to understand the other person. I look up at her with
my telescope, and see her waving. She's been really patient with
me. I get in my spaceship and take a trip. I orbit several times,
which is my way of knocking because I don't want to be rude. And
then I listen and am so thrilled when she says 'Come on down.' I
land as softly as I can. On the ladder looking down, I stop and
wait for permission to actually step off. I realize that I'm about
to get footprints all over the floor. But she's not hung up on
that, she just wants me to keep all that metal spaceship stuff
confined to a few places in the house, and not scattered all over.
I listen, and also learn there are some rooms guests should leave
just as is, and of course I respect that. She wants to share,
and offers me some rocks. But in exchange, she wants some from me,
of course. So she can understand me, too. So I go and come back
with rocks from Earth to give to her, one for every one I take.
And her gifts are so precious. They don't look like rocks to me
anymore, but gems. Gifts from my sister, like family photos from
our past that will tell me all sorts of things about her, and about
me too. And then I go, with promises to return soon. But not too
soon. It was just a first real visit, after all, and we both want
to go slow, and grow a relationship that will last all our lives.
We are very different people, and understanding takes patience.
Good thing she has that.

Jennifer A. Grier, Ph.D.

Photo taken by Ron Wyman; found at the Nasa web site


Green-Eyed Lady(GEL) said...

As a nightowl who loves the mystery of the moon and one who enjoys lovely and wise writing by visiting certain blogs, thank you for sharing this!

Your pervasive pride in your beloved sister shines here with galactic proportions. :)

Knitting Painter Woman said...

I think it is promising (and reassuring) when scientists have poetry in them. (And vice versa, actually).

I don't have a sister, but I can enjoy the moon. And my son (an astrophysicists) has a poetic soul.

Amy said...

Yes, Sultry, I think it is best when poets love science and scientists love poetry. My sister and I have had many discussion about the imaginary line between science and art. We believe the line is an illusion, and that both pursuits are equally valid methods for exploration of the self, the world, and whatever truth may be out there (or in us.)