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Property repossessed (09/18/2005)
By Janet Lewis Burns

In the earth, at our camping site, we embedded a stepping stone of multicolored glass shards that our granddaughter had made. Some folks mark their property with the year of construction imprinted in the concrete.

Ornamental yard rocks set family names in stone. The distant horizon of city lights is a jumble of business names erected by proud, and often mortgaged to the hilt, owners of real estate.

"SOLD to the highest bidder!"

Most of us earth-dwellers have claimed possession of tracts of property in one area or another. Is it that presumption of ownership that has built barriers and nurtured greed since the beginning of civilization?

The poet Robert Frost softened the notion in "The Tuft Of Flowers." ‘Men work together,' I told him from the heart, ‘whether they work together or apart'."

Frost also wrote, "Good fences make good neighbors." Both seem wise.

Voices of self-assumed ownership and entitlement stake their claims...

The statuesque eagle peers from his perch in the uppermost branch of a Ponderosa pine. "This is all mine," he muses, "the forest, the lake beyond, rich with fish to satisfy my hunger, airways in a vast, billowy sky - all mine."

"This is all mine," the crop farmer notes, "the plenteous corn, bean, and wheat fields, the stand of yonder oak, a rushing stream, those fifty acres I rent to the guy down the road, and rain and sunshine for these crops - all mine."

A robust, balding fella, a rod and reel in hand and an Irish setter at his side, says satisfactorily to himself, "This is all mine, this stretch of lakefront property, this portion of beach (NO TRESPASSING), sky's fluid reflection, and that grove of pines out behind my country mansion - all mine."

An Oglala Sioux, riding horseback through the same prairie, speaks from centuries lost. "This is all mine, land that swells with buffalo, the mighty waters and wooded hills where spirits of my ancestors dwell, and endless skies carrying smoke signals, messages from brother to brother and tribe to tribe - all mine."

A voice echoes down through the annuals of the ages. "Who is it who claims entitlement to fertile land where abundant food can be sowed and harvested, and where lush woodlands flourish - to fulfill everyone's' needs?"

"Who possesses pristine bodies of water and rippling streams, flowing for all of mankind and the creatures of the earth? Skies bursting with sunshine and overflowing with rain for all that grows?"

The voice turns sad. "What has polluted my lakes, rivers, and seas? All this waste and debris, unsightly across my land. Forests have been ravaged and left in disarray, or are destroyed in the name of progress. Why are staggering numbers of my people starving?"

"What is this greed and hatred that has severed peaceful ties between fellowman and nations? What is the soul and conscience of those who destroy, murder, and prejudice against one another?"

"This carnage is mine - all mine." The voice falls on deaf ears. "The inhabitants of my world are destroying one another and squandering their resources. Now their pain, disease, suffering, and neglect are mine - all mine."

"Don't you remember me?" The voice strains to be heard above the clamor of fast-lane and cutthroat frenzy. "Deafening intrusion of cruelty, injustice, war and the destructive power of drug abuse and immorality brutally divide races and jeopardize all living creatures."

"It's all mine," the presence weeps, "every burden each soul carries. You need to come home, where I can heal, feed, comfort, and forgive you...it's no more than any father would do for his child."

All byways eventually lead to the gates of the "Promised Land." Word has it that "No Trespassing" and "Closed For Renovation" notices have been seen there.

Travel light. 


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