I was 17 years old. Along with a dozen other boys I had made a long trip to Iowa in order to see a college that I was thinking of attending. While the trip had been fun for the most part, now that I was there I was feeling depressed, alone, and isolated. I was missing my family and was realizing that I wouldn’t be seeing them very much if I went to school here. I was also missing the Appalachian mountains of my home. I loved walking in their forests of Maple, Oak, Beech, Birch, and Hickory trees. I loved how the leaves turned a thousand shades of green in the Spring and then became an sea of red, gold, and orange in the Fall. I loved the smell of the Clover and
countless wild flowers that grew in our meadows. These things were a part of me.
Here in Iowa everything was flat. The grass looked burnt and brown. All that I could smell was a mixture of corn, mud, and pigs. I walked outside the dormitory of the college and sat on an old stump. I closed my eyes and dreamed of being back home again. When I finally opened them, however, I saw something that touched my soul. It was a Prairie Sunset. It seemed to fill the sky from horizon to horizon. Gold, red, purple and pink clouds all flowed together in a picture painted by Heaven’s own hand. It was so huge that it took my breath away. It made our mountain sunsets seem tiny by comparison. I was filled with wonder and felt a special Oneness with God. I realized too that I had been foolish and judgmental. This place too had its own special beauty. This place too was a part of God’s Creation.
Over the years to come I learned something else. Each of us has a special beauty as well. Each of us has our own unique talents and abilities. Each of us has a beautiful, powerful love that only we can share. And God wants us to share it. May you always do so then. May your life always shine bright. And may your love glow from your soul like a sunset on the Prairie.
Joseph J. Mazzella