Chu Yun and Lu Yun arrived in San Francisco in 1868 with something of a plan: Chu would get a job as a geologist for the railroad and his daughter Lu - well, that was unclear. But when the railroad hiring office made it clear that Chu would only be hired as a laborer, Lu then knew exactly what she would do: pretend to be a man and join her father. They were then assigned to a very important section of the railroad in Promontory, Utah - the section where the Transcontinental Railroad would be completed.
Note: Though this is historical fiction and the characters have been developed to accommodate a story, their attributes and development may be useful as reference points and inspirations.
Topics for Investigation
Utah History - History of Transcontinental Railroad and how it changed Utah - History of Chinese Immigration
Utah Geography - Map of Transcontinental Railroad and point of union - Geology of Utah
Study Topics for “Eyes of the Earth” - Plight of the Chinese in late 19th century - Power and wealth disparity between the top and bottom of Railroad industry
Topics for Reflection
From a Child Development Perspective:
In this story, your child might learn that:
These words about Chu Yun teachings to his daughter, Lu, don’t apply just to the earth, stone rocks in geology. Chu Yun’s advice to pay attention and honor what is true, is a training in being alive with calm, serenity and fulfillment in our everyday experience.
“So he taught her what he was learning - how to pay attention. How to study something for what it is rather than what we want it to be.
“The earth doesn’t lie” he told her, “Rocks and stones are what they are and it is our job to see them clearly. If you see and honor the earth it will see and honor you.”
We all need to find our place in life where we are valued and where we belong and where our gifts or seen. Chu Yun was a scientist, not a labor!
When we look at our fellow friends, Lu Yun reminds us that we must look beneath what one sees on the outside to the ‘essence’ of who we are on the inside. "We've been here for a week father and I can see that the Americans barely look at us. All they see is Chinese-and don't care about anything else...”, Lu Yun said to her father.
Because Chu Yun had taught Lu Yun how to pay attention, she was very awake and aware and could navigate life for more smoothly. This is what helped her to observe tactics in being a man that she needed in order to assist her father.
Sometimes the "destiny” that we plan for ourselves is not the one that is going to happen, so we must make the best of it. Chu and Lu looked forward to their daily chat during a meal when it became clear that the plan that they had was a different one than what they were experiencing, and this is the first lesson in accepting ‘what is’ rather than wishing for what is not.
Although it may take some time, with trust and perseverance, the right people will want us for the gifts that we have to offer. Chu was patient and trusting, and in the end, he was valued for his expertise in geology and rocks, thereby becoming the lead engineer’s geological advisor.
Do the thing that is respectful to others and that also is respectful to yourself. Kimble quit on the spot when the people he had respected have been so disrespected.
Say ‘thank you’ to people for their hard work. While it is best to work for the sake of working hard and do what we do because it's what's right, it is also nice every now and again to have our work seen and acknowledged. This is what happened when Kimble's crew was to be celebrated for being as efficient and as hard-working as they were.
At the same time, there are times when our work is not seen except by the rocks. And then, there is great value in saying nothing but knowing that the rocks know the truth.
“This rock has been here longer than anything - the trees, the animals, the people. This rock has seen everything. And it saw us. It watched us build this railroad and it knows the truth. The eyes of the earth have seen the truth - and they know what we did together.”
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About the Authors
David Sewell McCann
David Sewell McCann fell in love with spinning stories in first grade – the day a storyteller came to his class and captured his mind and imagination. He has been engaged in storytelling all of his adult life through painting, film-making, teaching and performing. Out of his experience as a Waldorf elementary class teacher and parent, he has developed a four step method of intuitive storytelling, which he now shares through workshops and through this website.
Meredith has been working with adults and children of all ages for the past 25 years as a Waldorf Teacher and Educational Consultant. She received a B.A. with a focus on child development and child psychology from the University of Michigan, in 1984, an M.A. Ed from Washington University in 1987, and her Waldorf Teaching Certificate from the Lehrerausbildung (Teacher Training) in Nurnberg, Germany in 1989. She was certified as a Living Inquiries Facilitator in 2014, and she completed her formal teaching certification with The Enneagram Institute in 2014. Her work in the classroom and with individuals and groups is designed to help people of all ages to drop self-limiting beliefs to live a more joyful and compassionate life.