“But ask the beasts, and they will teach you; the birds of the heavens, and they will tell you; or the bushes of the earth, and they will teach you; and the fish of the sea will declare to you.”
Job 12 vv. 7-8
By the end of this week, my first grandchild will be born. As friends and family continue to pray for her perfect health, I do the same. The outpouring of love and support from church family—my most trusted friends, has been tremendous. Though she’s grown to one week of full-term, Nehemiah is a little small; therefore, my daughter will be induced to be sure little Miah is healthy.
In preparation for her arrival, I spent this past weekend washing all her teeny clothes and packing my backpack with a change of clothes, healthy snacks, a book or two, a cozy blanket, and the cross-stitch project I’ve been creating. Yes, the moment I have been waiting for since January of this year arrives in just about two to three days.
I waited in February and saw deer; I viewed them at the Airforce Academy as they placed their hooves in the snow. I saw them while sitting in the park across from the house where my daughter was raised. Then in March, I viewed the pregnant squirrels finishing up the nests they loved to construct in my then outdoor storage area. Now I wonder where they’ll go next year since I replaced this tarp-covered space in June with something better! In April and early May, some baby birds (hatchlings to chicks) began to squeak as they awaited food from their mom. In June, the garden snake in residence since 2015 appeared. I am not sure why it chooses to be in my backyard, but I’ve learned to shove it off with a homemade repellant when I must pull weeds. And it returns about a week later! I have no garden rodents; therefore, the snake can stay. In July, the baby grasshoppers jumped the lawn. Hop, hop on the grass, and on my sandaled toes, they were. This month, Japanese Beetles chose the heirloom flower “Kiss Me Over the Garden Gate” to mate upon. Stacked on each other, they are affectionate, with their tiny spikes swaying back and forth. I only saw about twenty of these beetles this year, so they are also allowed to stay.
Without the trees and plants to support these beings, their lungs would collapse. Without trees and our natural water systems, our lungs would dry up. As much as I wanted to crush the grasshoppers and squeeze the beetles, I understood that just as I need the earthworms to turn the soil for green grass and food to grow, these little beings have a purpose if a major infestation does not threaten the food I grow.
Jakob Doors wrote:
“When ecosystems and creatures are damaged and harmed, the damage will find its way back to us. When we pollute the air, we pollute ourselves. When we pollute the rivers, we pee in our own bed. We are part of the world in countless ways. The world and its creatures are in our DNA, in our farmlands, in our food, and we share the same (reptilian) brain” (pg. 29).
Pretty profound, right?
What does all this have to do with the birth of Nehemiah? As I viewed the many creatures of winter, spring, and summer, I thought about the care I gave my daughter. Despite this care and precise teachings of God, outside influences crept in. They crept in and then ran these gentle dynamics over. They were brutal, and I was sometimes impatient, angry, and confused. Today, I occasionally still struggle with these feelings when I ask myself— what could I have done differently?
Annie Dillard wrote, “The world is full of creatures that for some reason feels stranger than others…” (pg. 138). Anne refers to creatures of God’s kingdom. But when I am exposed to the dark influences on young people today, I view these “creatures” as some in human forms. Then I think, how can I guard Nehemiah against these ugly creatures? How can I protect her? How can I prevent her from viewing the tapestry’s knotted and chaotic side and only show her the pretty side instead? Is this even possible? —I then ask myself.
These questions multiply and are equally intense as time draws nearer her birth. But in early mornings when the now grown birds sing, I hear God whispering through His words. I hear Charlotte, slow these thoughts down, come nearer still, and I remain closer still.
Annie Dillard also wrote: “People say that a good seat in the backyard affords as accurate and inspiring a vantage point on the planet earth as any observation tower on Alpha Centauri. They are wrong. We see through a glass darkly. We find ourselves in the middle of a movie, or God help us, a take for a movie, and we don’t know what’s on the rest of the film” (pg. 144).
Having given birth to my daughter, I now remember the contractions and expansions of my uterus. Just as bridges consistently contract and expand to take us safely across to familiar or often new experiences. Then perhaps these same bridges offer us a mending of essential relationships!
I suppose having Nehemiah soon in my life; my heart will contract and expand often, as I guide her with God’s grace and mercy! As I teach her of Him! With God’s will, many lessons from my backyard, our communities, and beyond, I know, come.
I hope to be back here sometime in September!
Growing together, inside, and out!
Dillard, A. (1974). Pilgrim at Tinker Creek. Harper Collins. Pgs. 138, 144.
Doors, J. (2022). Our friends are not just humans. Friends Journal, 68(7). Pg. 29.
All Bible verses are from the English Standard Bible (ESV). Crossway Publishers