Last week Cranbrook Institute of Science and Schuchard teamed up to provide a family science night. We enjoyed visiting the different centers and watching various experiments, observing stunning crystals, beetles and butterflies under a microscope, making oobleck and having a giant cockroach walk on our arms (well, I did not volunteer to have that experience). My favorite part was listening to the rock stories.
Rocks change, transform and have cycles. The process is slow and sometimes takes millions of years and that’s why most people assume that the rock is just sitting there doing nothing. We’re usually long gone by the time sand particles form into sedimentary rocks and then the rock either breaks up by weather and turns into sand again or if transforms into magma.
Native Americans honor not only the process of the rock’s outer formation but the sacredness of its existence. Chief Seattle addresses this relationship to rocks in his original speech of 1854, as reported by Henry Smith in 1887:
“Every part of this soil is sacred in the estimation of my people. Every hillside, every valley, every plain and grove, has been hallowed by some sad or happy event in days long vanished. Even the rocks, which seem to be dumb and dead as the swelter in the sun along the silent shore, thrill with memories of stirring events connected with the lives of my people.”
Much mind opening information was shared during the two hour event. My children had fun and I learned quite a bit, including the fact that the Statute of Liberty was made of copper but that it has rusted over time and turned into a green coating. But I also felt a little sad. The earth deserves more than those few hours of recognition and honor. The environment provides us with everything we need to survive and thrive, and yet oftentimes we take nature for granted. This negligence on our part has not served us one bit, and actually it has done the exact opposite.
It’s a great effort and generous gesture of institutions like Cranbrook and Schuchard to bring this knowledge to our doors, but ultimately it’s our jobs to make the connection between spirit, man and nature a natural part of our daily lives.