Monday, October 09, 2006

George Washington Carver National Monument

This is a quote from the official national monument brochure found at the site (published by the U.S. Department of the Interior):

"Carter was motivated by his love for all of creation. For him, every life-- a tiny fungus in healthy soil, the ever-present flower on his lapel, a forest bird, a human being of any complexion or nationality-- was a window on God and a mouthpiece through which the Great Creator spoke... Let the George Washington Carver National Monument introduce you to this humble man whose love of God and agriculture became a ministry to benefit humanity."

It was a good place to visit. We were under a bit of a time crunch, as we were supposed to be driving home and had taken the morning to attend church. But I am glad we stopped. The walk down to the replica of his cabin and the little farmhouse owned by the Moses Carvers was beautiful-- a forested area with a creek running through it, and a little pond about halfway through. There is a lovely statue of George Washington Carver as a boy, sitting in the midst of the woods. We found a turtle near the pond and watched it try to eat a spider.

The visitor's center includes a little learning area in a trailor in the back, hands on projects and interactive computer games and questions. We could have spent an entire afternoon there, but were only able to spare an hour and a half. The ranger was nice, and when he found out that Triss is studying George Washington Carver for school, he prepared a thick packet of freebies for us to take home.

This national monument was the first monument established for an African-American, as well as the first U.S. birthplace monument dedicated to anyone other than a U.S. President.

George Washington Carver was born a slave. His mother was kidnapped and he never saw her from the time he was a baby. He had to struggle in order to get the learning he so desired. He witnessed frightening things as an orphan on his own, was refused entrance to schools because of his color, and worked hard at anything he could put his hand to in order to feed himself and get his education.

"The opening of the school found me at Simpson College, attempting to run a laundry for my support... I lived on prayer, beef suet and corn meal... quite often without the suet and the meal."

He worked hard, and encouraged others to work hard:

"No individual has any right to come into this world and go out of it without leaving behind him distinct and legitimate reasons for having passed through it."

Dr. Carver was an expert in botany, mycology, chemistry, music, herbalism, art, cooking and massage. He used his skills to worship his Creator and help his fellow man, believing that being of service to others was the ultimate measure of success in life. I wish I didn't use the word "great" so much, because I have bankrupted it. Here was a man that was truly great. He was greater than a trip to Missouri, or a meal out, or a well-done math paper. Why must I call these things great? I should save strong words for times that need them. Dr. Carver was a great man, and one who did not let his circumstances dictate his life, but looked to the Lord to provide answers.

"I never have to grope for methods. The method is revealed at the moment I am inspired to create something new... Without God to draw aside the curtain I would be helpless."

He asked the Creator,"'Dear Mr. Creator, please tell me what the universe was made for.' The Great Creator answered, 'You want to know too much for that little mind of yours. Ask for something more your size.' Then I asked, 'Dear Mr. Creator, tell me what man was made for.' Again the Great Creator replied, 'Little man, you are still asking too much. Cut down the extent of your request and improve the intent.' So then I asked, 'Please, Mr. Creator, will you tell me why the peanut was made?'" He developed over 300 uses for the peanut after the Lord agreed to answer this more appropriately-sized question!

"Our eyes and ears are always open. We must be patient and wait, as the old prophets. Isaiah and the old prophets always had their eyes and ears open. You know, Isaiah, listening, heard a voice. We have so much noise now that we hear nothing but noise. It comes and goes and that's all of it, just noise. We can't think very well now because there are so many noises of different kinds. But, Isaiah, he heard a voice."

(What would he think of the "noise" in society today? We have ever so much more than they had at the turn of the century!)

Dr. Carver studied, experimented and learned, and shared his knowledge with others through free Agricultural Bulletins, his professorship at Tuskegee Institute in Alabama, travels throughout the southern farm country and even a visit to the U.S. Congress. He did these things simply, so that he could help those "farthest down."

"If I know the answer you can have it for the price of a postage stamp. The Lord charges nothing for knowledge, and I will charge you the same."

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