Robins. A poem.

The robins and I

regarded

each other, as if neither were a surprise

but simply the intertwining 

of the world.

The river birch struggles

above us, a victim of last year’s

drought.

This is not a surprise, either.

The world is harsh,

after all.

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.

The deliberate search for hope: thoughts on November 9.

I decided early on not to watch the debate last night. I’d had enough of the inescapable spin, watching friends attack friends on social media, and the general, abysmal state of the world.

Rather, I turned to the place where my soul finds rest, to the woods, to deliberately look for hope.

The worry, the emotional fatigue, clung to me for a good while. Voices warning of doomsday loitered like shadowy figures on the street corners of my mind.

I pressed on one step at a time and wondered…

…what will become of us all a month from now?

If all we are as a people is an election, if all we look to, to save us, is a figurehead, then on November 9 half of us will be faced with eternal damnation.

Unless…

…unless hope can’t be found in a president.

A government cannot dole out salvation like loaves of bread to the starving.

The thorny pain of disappointment, dying dreams, sickness and hate can’t be solved by any administration.

No, our hope doesn’t come from a man or a woman…

…can’t come from a man or a woman.

We are living so small in a world beckoning us to stop and listen, take notice…

…hope is not dead.

Hope is here.

Hope is alive.

Hope is in the haze of the sun settling over drying corn fields, and in the gentle sway of the goldenrod.

Hope is waiting to burst wide open like the gossamer rupture of cat tails, and for you to bend down and notice it in the fragile petals of frost asters.

Even dying things reach heavenward because they know where the hand that made them resides.

Soon the crimson blaze of change will settle and the bare naked arms of the trees will open wide to embrace us, white snow of winter covering us clean.

The stained glass exaltation of nature points us to the One, who alone can save us from our selves.

We are living so small.

But we were made to live bigger than this.

We are cowering in fear and hate.

But the Lord gave us sound minds to live brave and to love.

We act as if we have no hope, when hope is all we have and all we need.

Look.

At the sun, the sky, the changing leaves.

Listen.

To the laughter of your children, the rustle of the wind, the songs of the sparrows.

Hold.

The strong hand of your spouse, the round smoothness of a newly ripened apple, the crisp, white pages of scripture.

Words and deeds, kings and kingdoms, the days allotted to each of us evanesce like morning frost

But hope.

Hope remains.

Where will you find it today?

*****

“Dear, dear Corinthians, I can’t tell you how much I long for you to enter this wide-open, spacious life. We didn’t fence you in. The smallness you feel comes from within you. Your lives aren’t small, but you’re living them in a small way. I’m speaking as plainly as I can and with great affection. Open up your lives. Live openly and expansively!” 2 Corinthians‬ ‭6:11-13‬ ‭MSG‬‬

*****