When I was younger, we were told when visiting the country that we should ‘Leave nothing but footprints and take nothing but photographs.’ There are many similar versions of this saying, but a quick google suggests that the original quote was from a Native American, Chief Seattle, who made a famous speech around 1854. His quote was ‘Take only memories, leave nothing but footprints’.
That injunction to leave nothing but footprints seems even more relevant given the climate crisis that the world is facing and the appalling pollution that we witness. I know many people who are trying to avoid flights and taking the train where possible as a part of trying to reduce their footprint on the planet. Each week, when I put out my bin bag along with a large amount of recycling, I am painfully reminded of my own impact on this fragile globe. It’s clear that we each have more that we can do.
The shock of the death last week of Ali Lyon made me also wonder about the mark that we leave on other people’s lives. Among other things, Ali was a churchwarden here from 2010-16, but that doesn’t start to describe the impact that she had on the community here. She contributed richly to our common life as well as having a significant effect on many individuals. In my experience, Ali was not shy in saying what she thought but with the exception of the issue of the government’s funding of the NHS, if she disagreed with you, she did so with a light touch. Without pussyfooting, Ali trod lightly with regards to others and paradoxically in doing so left an even bigger mark.
Tread lightly. And go well.