All creatures great and small

The Lord God made them all.

Those two lines were penned by James Herriot, beloved English veterinarian and author of so many books I loved especially in childhood.

Today is Earth Day.

Nature deeply inspires the novels and poetry I write, and with good reason. Creation is full of the inexpressible wonder of the Lord.

Some of my favorite authors are fellow nature lovers…Barbara Kingsolver (a fellow alumni!), Annie Dillard, Wallace Stegner, Wendell Berry, Mary Oliver, Gene Stratton Porter (a fellow Hoosier author!), Beatrix Potter, Sigurd F. Olson, Thoreau, Whitman, Emerson, and the list goes on and on. 

The current novel I’m working to finish is no different, and it may pull in the most nature to date. Set in southern Indiana, I’ve drawn upon waterfalls and spring time, red tail hawks and box turtles, orphaned rabbits and so much more.

When all the world is chaos, we need only to look at the miracle of spring, the joy of a fawn grazing alongside its mother in a hazy field at dawn, the call of a mourning dove perched on a weathered fence.

Ponder the wonder of the earth today, friends. Take care of it. Not for politics. But for the simple fact that it is a gift from our Creator.

He’s a good ol’ dog.

Have you read Genesis 1 lately? My
dog had surgery this week so I went
to the Scriptures (per usual) to help put things into
perspective
because you know, he’s
just a dog like
elephants are just oafs and
manatees and whales and blowfish
and caterpillars and lizards with wings
and yellow birds
blue birds
red birds are just, well,
you know.
funny
how the Creator went wild, ape, some might say
when He got His eternal noggin’ goin’ and formed and shaped and painted
and spun all these Creatures
then breathed life into their lungs
same as ours.
Now don’t get me wrong, man’s
in charge. Humans
trump all. But when I look in Jax’s big ol’ chocolate chip eyes at the end
of a cruel day of living and dying and
the inhumane drama of
small town
living
I know why Abba knows
a dog like Jaxson is
very, very
good.

*

God looked over everything he had made; it was so good, so very good! It was evening, it was morning—Day Six.
Genesis 1:31 (TMV)

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2100 pennies: A (tail) of faith*

Twenty-one hundred pennies.

That’s how much Middle Son needed to buy the baby guinea pig at the pet store.

So Middle Son, determined animal-lover that he is, scoured his room and pilfered from his brothers and culled through junk drawers, presenting me with a couple of bulging, gallon-sized bags full of copper. We took it all to the bank, and the bank teller said she was way too busy to count it all herself. She set us up at a table in the bank lobby, where we sat for a good while stuffing paper rolls full of coins . . . and hope.

When we were finished counting, my son had twenty-one hundred pennies.

To the penny.

If that wasn’t a sign from God that I had to buy that darn tennis-ball-sized mound of fur, I don’t know what was.

So we crossed the street to the pet store and brought him home.

Middle Son named him Pogo.

Pogo purred when we picked him up. He squealed with glee when time we came in the room. He sat on our tummies when we watched TV. And his chocolate chip black eyes blinked at us with adoration.

For four years, we loved Pogo.

And he loved us.

So when Pogo died on Saturday, I cried all morning. We all did. I placed his soft, limp body in a shoebox, on top of fresh bedding. Middle Son found a homemade, matching hemp bracelet and necklace, tucked the necklace next to Pogo, and tied the bracelet around his ankle.

As I dug a hole, Middle Son brought his guitar outside and sat on the picnic table. “I’ll play Ode to Joy while you read, Mama,” he said. (It was either that or Iron Man, the only two songs he knows. I blame his guitar teacher.)

The whole family stood around the grave site as Middle Son plucked a somber rendition of the tune, and I read Psalm 104 (which, incidentally, talks about a guinea pig-like creature in verse 18).

Before we buried Pogo, Middle Son wrote and tucked a page-long letter in the box beside him, which I wasn’t allowed to read, but I imagine said something about how Pogo was his best buddy in the whole wide world, and how they will be friends forever, and how much he’ll miss him, but he’ll see him again someday in Heaven.

Friends are hard to lose.

No matter how small.

And sometimes the smallest friends are the most faithful.

Which is why, as a grown adult typing this days later, I’m still weeping. I remember the guinea pig I had as a little girl. Somehow feeling the fur between my fingers and holding my hand to his tiny, rapidly beating chest unveiled the flutter of my own heart . . . and the flutter of My Maker’s as He reassured me, “I am here. I made this creature. I care for him. And I care for you.”

When the hearts of humans dissapoint us, betray us, and cause us pain, God’s creatures assure us of His unconditional, unwavering faithfulness.

Because like the Bible says, faith starts as a mustard seed.

If it grows as big as a guinea pig, you’re doing pretty good.

And if you have enough to fill a bag full of pennies, you’re doing great.

No wonder psalmists sang so often of all of God’s creatures.

No wonder God made them every size, shape and color.

In lieu of the unfaithfulness of humanity, God’s faithfulness blinks at us . . .

. . . adoringly . . .

. . . through the eyes of even His smallest . . .

. . . furriest . . .

creations.

How many are your works, O LORD! 
In wisdom you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures. 
There is the sea, vast and spacious, teeming with creatures beyond number—living things both large and small.
These all look to you to give them their food at the proper time.
When you give it to them, they gather it up; when you open your hand, they are satisfied with good things.
When you hide your face, they are terrified; when you take away their breath, they die and return to the dust. 
When you send your Spirit, they are created, and you renew the face of the earth.

~Psalm 104: 24-25, 27-30~

*This post is part of Bridget Chumbley’s One Word at a Time blog carnival on faithfulness today, as well as Tuesdays Unwrapped at Chatting at the Sky.