Good is the earth, it suits us! Like the global grape
it hangs, dear God, in the blue air and sways in the gale,
nibbled by all the birds and spirits of the four winds.
Come, let’s start nibbling too and so refresh our minds!
from the Prologue to ‘The Odyssey: A Modern Sequel’ by Nikos Kazantzakis
Kazantzakis’s description of the planet was a prescient one, written fourteen years before the first full-view of Earth was taken by the crew of the Apollo 17 in 1972 during a mission to the moon:
Good it is and, upon seeing it, our human response to the word “home” was to be forever altered. Home did resemble a grape, hanging in gravitational sway, fragile but moving in perfect and perpetual harmony with gravitational “winds” through wide arcs around the Sun, within a galaxy of a million suns, and all of it within a billion-galaxied universe.
In a glance, we were able to see- even when we could not yet say how we knew or why- that there was more, much more, to our definition of the ground we walked upon or the place within which that patch of familiar ground was contained. There was more, much more, with which we would need to come to a collective language of respect and regard for this home we shared with birds, fish, elm trees, mountain streams, polar bears, cacti, wasps, bacteria, volcanoes, clouds, and each other.
What Kazantzakis imagined in metaphor, we could now barely begin to perceive in reality. Even as we have come to terms of increased understanding of what we did not could not yet know in 1972, the exponential revelation of more questions becomes the only true and beckoning destination toward which we can journey. We will never arrive at a place where we can say, with finality, “Now, we know.”
Kazantzakis, in the prologue to his ‘Modern Odyssey,’ was inviting the reader on a 33,333 line poetic journey- a new look at the ancient and epic story of Ulysses. It is an historical, mythological, and spiritual story, as all classical stories are. History is no more a collection of mere facts, than mythology is only a series of imagined fantasies.
Our Earth is not merely a random collection of soil, water, air, and fire; nor must it be regarded only as the material manifestation of a god’s or goddess’s human-focused dreams. It is neither. It is both.
It is a place upon which birds nibble and volcanoes become continents. It is a place where the spirits of the winds are the voice of God and where creation is born of destruction. It is the place where plagues decimate whole species and where shepherds lie refreshed in green pastures beside still waters. So,
let’s start nibbling too and so refresh our minds!