The Holy Wild

Even in the most suburban of lots, house-bound on every side, a mere speck in the greater-metro area landscape – there are things happening we I too rarely take time to notice.

Psalm 66.4 “All the earth bows down to you;
    they sing praise to you,
    they sing the praises of your name.”

What is this thing, that the older I get the less interested I am in man-made paraphernalia and the more fascinating I find unfettered creation, its endless variations and complete autonomy? How have we come to live so that nature, seeing the Creator in His most beautifully expressed perfection, just enjoying the world God has made –  is confined to the 2 week vacation we have planned somewhere “away from from it all”  or the occasional hike up a mountain and then we are back to car motors and concrete, air-conditioned homes and a tidy, boxed little version of this vast universe?

Created {creative} life is actively engaged and fully alive and we can participate, but we spend an awful lot of time looking at handheld devices, staring at blue-glowing screens, don’t we? holy wild aspen leaves

Aspen leaves shimmer as the sun breaks over the rooftops…

Takes one to know one

I feel land-locked. I have the sliver of a backyard that I actually do work to make enjoyable and as “natural” as possible, suburbia be darned. But I do have to think of the HOA…When I’ve lived in a small town, I have longed for the city lights and easy shopping excursions. But when that is the reality, I yearn for a pastoral setting with chickens for eggs and goats for cheese and a horse, of course.  I guess I am hard to please. And I forget to just notice the miraculous wonder all around me each day.

After reading Wendell Berry earlier this summer {click here}, I knew I needed to just start to see what is happening in the little universe that is my backyard again. So much is going on, it turns out, when I am so unaware, just a few feet behind a picture window. Life is happening, life abundant.

Psalm 65.13  “The meadows are clothed with flocks of sheep, and the valleys are carpeted with grain.     They all shout and sing for joy!”

This is a test.

I went out to be still and quietly observe in the early morning, then the evening. Here is what I saw…

In spite of my predetermined locations, plants go wild and grow where they wish. No-see-ums throw raucous parties, throwing caution to the wind by dashing in and out of sunlight –  knowing they can be seen in that instant, yet daring the birds to get them en masse. holy wild dappled morning light

Morning light dapples its way across the lawn

The sun slowly rises and though the shadow remains very still across the lawn, barely quivering Aspen leaves get caught in the beam-fall of bright morning light and gently shimmer against the dark green velvet background. All else is still, very still while the sacred dance is performed. All creation is at worship…

A black and translucent dragon-fly looped around me playfully at one point, daring me to give chase. Luckily my camera was nearby and when I wondered how I’d ever keep up, sweet thing just landed beside me on a rusty old milk can and smiled pretty for the picture. holy wild dragon fly When he bid farewell and flew to another part of the garden, I decided to walk over and check a patch of sun-scorched grass, which I generally am irritated over, but which I decided to go view with mercy, to determine if I should re-seed or wait for cooler days to revive it.

Lo and behold, there in the middle of the little patch was a baby Mourning Dove!

Two Mourning Doves have made a home for their growing family in my Austrian Pine. Even though they are much too large, they often try to check up on me by lighting on a narrow edge just outside my window. They keep quite busy in their comings and goings and home {nest} improvement projects. And now here, in the brown and greenish corner of my lawn sat a plump baby dove. I asked if she was OK and where her parents were and I saw her heart was palpitating wildly as she checked me out, too. She’d obviously been instructed by her mommy not to talk to strangers. Just beyond, behind some rocks was her younger brother, slightly smaller and much more trepidatious about my presence. holy wild mourning dove 1 I stretched out on my belly in the cool grass, still slightly damp from last night’s rain, and we just looked at each other for a bit. Not long later, mommy and daddy dove returned and the happy family cooed and much happy wing-whirling (the distinctive sound they make upon each arrival and departure) ensued. Family, together again. holy wild mourning dove 2 Mourning Doves, I have since learned, eat seeds only, which explains the choice of the scorched spot – where seeds of every kind get caught on their way by.

Psalm 96.12  “Let the fields and their crops burst out with joy! Let the trees of the forest sing for joy…”

Isn’t life amazing?

I went to inspect a particular pepper plant that seems to have a nightly visitor who enjoys leaf-munching. I mean, it is there amongst a row of pepper plants, and yet, one by one, the leaves of said pepper plant have disappeared to the stem, munched right off. I am sure it is a cute furry something or another, but I have called a neighborhood watch by the nearby tomatoes and basil varieties and given the other peppers a scolding for not reporting this travesty. Thievery in the garden will not be tolerated!

Just then, a tiny toad hopped right onto my foot and then off again. It couldn’t have been more than an inch long and must have thought I was a statue or something. I reached down to see if I could catch him, for wouldn’t the grandbebes think he was delightful? And his hopping became very high and zig-zaggy. I’ve never seen a toad go so fast. Just as well, he’d have peed in my hand, no doubt. holy wild untended garden boxes

Square-foot gardening, my attempt at taming the wild

A few hours later, in the shade of the  Austrian Pine where the Mourning Doves live, where it comes together with mountain rock and the ever-spreading shiny-leafed Pachysandra, we spotted a very, very large spider (aren’t they always very large?) weaving a web for his nightly dinner. It had reddish diamond shapes on its back and worked quickly and efficiently, a 2 foot x 2 foot area.  A peek into the space beyond and you realize there is this whole life system happening and my presence is of absolutely no consequence, even though this is “my” yard.

How did God do this?!?

Romans 1.20 “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and divine nature…”

I decide I should take a quick look at my woefully neglected garden boxes and see the purslane remains abundant {taking seriously the command to be fruitful and multiply}. It’s a weed because I didn’t invite it there, but it is also a sign and reminder that if I did nothing in the garden at all, if the world went crazy and the stores shut down and food was scarce, there are edible things in the back yard. I could live without starving off the purslane alone. Now add in the sneaky dandelions that plant themselves in established gardens and emerge strong for the feedings and my ongoing war with those resilient garlic chives, I could subsist on some very green and tasty stir-fries.

The setting suns each day are becoming more colorful, more brilliant and deep. And just as  you catch your breath from the painted skies in the west, a super-moon emerges and all over again, you’re in awe of this planet, this place God fashioned.

It’s 11 o’clock pm as I write this and the leftover brilliance of the super-moon is dazzlingly bright in the sky just outside my window. A cool breeze is rolling in and I have the urge to sing  “Somewhere Out There,” like I always have when the moons are big and full. What do you think the neighbors would say??? holy wild afternoon shade I’m just a speck. I’m a blade of grass. I am so lucky to get to drink in the air, enjoy dappled sunlight from my patio on quiet mornings, swing in the cool of the evening, listen to grandbebes splashing in the pool or zooming down the slide. And all around us, even here in this tiny, suburban slice of the globe, all of creation is revealing the invisible God, the Creator of all and all of His eternal power.

Leaves and weeds, grass and seeds, web-weaving spiders and gnats and beetles, ladybugs and dragon-flies, the birds of the air, my old dog…revelations of God, all!

I mean – wow! This is what is happening. Right here in my own backyard!

2 thoughts on “The Holy Wild

  1. How beautiful! And who knew? I need to go out and see what’s going on in my yard. I notice on my bus rides (I”m not the driver,lol). There are deer, skunks, groundhogs, geese, ducks, occasionally a blue heron or buzzards or a beaver. But in my own yard I don’t notice.

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