#7: A most elegant book(s)

***This is the seventh of a series of posts based on a book I’m reading for a class called Connections in Religious and Ecological Education entitled Holy Ground: A Gathering of Voices on Caring for Creation. The two chapters are “Science, Scripture, and Con-serving Creation,” by Calvin B. DeWitt and “Song of Salmon,” by David James Duncan, a novelist and essayist.

Dewitt quotes his Psalter, reading the second article of the Confession of Faith: 

We know God by two means: First, by the creation, preservation, and governance of the universe/ which is before our eyes as a most elegant book/ in which all creatures, great and small, are as letters/ leading us to see clearly the invisible things of God:/ his eternal power and divinity…/ Second, he makes himself known more clearly and fully by his holy and divine word, as far as is necessary for us to know/ in this life, to his glory and our salvation.

And I think to myself, what are the creatures, great and small, that have been letters leading me in my own life to read God in Creation?

Duncan “sings” his Song of Salmon, claiming that “wild salmon are holy,” that human beings are but renters on this earth, that the salmon in the rivers and streams he loves are the very image of self-sacrificing love, the picture of generosity in blessing.  

And I think to myself, were I to write a new Song, what would it be?


Moss.  It would be moss.  Significant moments in my life, some small, some invisible, some even imagined, but all important have had as their foundation, their backdrop, their bed (if you will) the most incredible, resilient, impossible, luxurious and creepy Bryophyta.  When I was a little girl, I’d disappear into the woods around my grandparents’ house in Eastern Ohio for hours on end, usually to avoid family arguments or to simply spend time where the quiet wasn’t invaded by constant chatter, where I could hear my thoughts and the wind rolling through the trees.  There was a point, a precipice overlooking a creek-bed, where the foot of every tree was covered in moss.  My grandmother taught me that leprechauns lived in that forest, so I carefully and lovingly created little homes for them, moss couches in furry living rooms of various shades and species.  I hadn’t really sorted out God yet, but I knew there was magic somehow in the world and forests had to do with that mystery.  So I built.  And I wondered at the weirdness of moss, its smooshy crunchiness, the resistance it gave to being stepped on, but only so far before it allowed itself to be crushed, the sense I had that it was ancient beyond time.  It helped me to see better the invisible things of God, reading about the potential of invisibility and silence there, about the way of resistance and patience, of growth and uniqueness.  A most elegant book, and a song.


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