Thornton Wilder and This Wonderful Earth

ImageThe other day, I was driving home, from Savannah back to the Atlanta area. It’s a longish drive, crazy traffic coming into Atlanta, but there’s a stretch from Savannah to Macon that’s mostly straight interstate and easy-going. And I looked out my window at the trees just starting to bloom, the whites and pinks among the green, and oh! The wisteria! Those heavy lavender blooms dripping from their vines. 

A line from a play came to me–maybe you know it:

“Oh, earth, you’re too wonderful for anybody to realize you…”

The speaker is Emily Webb, from the play, Our Town by Thornton Wilder. There is something about the earth bursting forth with new life in the spring that –for a moment, at least–takes my breath away. For a moment, at least, I realize how awesome is this earth I’m blessed to walk upon, to see and hear and smell its wonders.

I wonder what Mr. Wilder pictured when he wrote that line for Emily, when he created Grover’s Corner and the story that’s become a classic in American drama. I’ve loved Our Town from the first time I read it. And I saw it on TV long ago, with Hal Holbrook playing the stage manager and just made a fool of myself, crying like a baby.

If you’ve never read the play, you can zip over to Scribd and get Our Town. (It looks like it’s free to download and read, though Scribd charges a fee for some works, so check the particulars first. In fact, you might want to take a look around Scribd, just for fun and edification. It’s the “world’s largest online library” according to the Scribd folks.)

Or you can watch the play in its entirety, with Paul Newman playing the Stage Manager in a Broadway production. I have so much work to do today, catching up from the trip to Savannah. But Our Town and Emily Webb are calling me.

They’re saying, “Work can wait a couple minutes. Go outside and realize how wonderful is this earth.”

(It’s Spring Break week here in Georgia, and perhaps where you are, too. Hope you’re having a lovely time outside. And that you have Kleenex or a coat, depending on where you are.)