This is my last devotion for you, Prince of Peace, and I want you to know how much I have enjoyed writing for you since the pandemic began. When we went into “stay at home” mode in March 2020, as a church staff we knew that we needed new ways to stay connected and share comfort and good news during that scary and confusing time. We thought it would be a good short term practice to keep the body of Christ together through devotions, and that turned out to be true in so many ways that now it is a regular part of our life together.
We’ve lived in our home for about 11 years now. Like we did with our previous home, we have steadily added to the landscape of our front and back yards, digging up sod and adding perennials, vegetable beds, and trees. We have become landscape planners and tenders. “Landscape” is defined as “all the visible features of the land,” but as I’ve gotten to know our plot of land better over the years, the most fascinating landscape, to me, is the stuff we can’t see.
One of my favorite hymns is “This is My Song,” ELW 887. Part of my love for this hymn is that the tune is from Finlandia, because the key signature is the same key signature of my heart. But the other reason I love this hymn is because of verses one and two:
In Whitman’s famous counsel on living he begins with “love the earth and sun and the animals….” The command to love the earth isn’t just for the earth’s sake. Loving the earth does something to us. It grounds us, centers us in our created-ness, and reminds us of the interconnectedness between all that lives and breathes and grows.
This is arguably one of Mary Oliver’s most well known poems because of the last sentence, “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” It is a profound question worth our time and reflection. But I keep coming back to the grasshopper and the amount of detail Oliver spends describing this one particular grasshopper that is in her hand. This swing between the very small picture of our lives (the grasshopper in front of us) and the big picture (our life’s plan) is interesting. Are they separate, related, or maybe two halves of one whole?