Back to a treasure of Dallas, the Cedar Ridge Preserve, with two very young friends, walking early one Saturday morning when the temperature was practically frigid (it was under 80 degrees): we ended up at a pond and stood looking out over the lake.
With excitement, one of them pointed: “Look! A turtle.” The water was not clear, but I could see its snout above water—it looked like the proverbial stick, but it moved slightly. What I first thought was its body became merely its neck. The more we looked, the bigger we realized the turtle was. Its shell looked to be covered with moss—something vegetative, at least, was living on it. Its neck was fat and long and its feet large. Or so it seemed—it moved slowly, largo. But we never got to see it except through the murky water.
Then others came. My little friends kept seeing more. They decided the first turtle was the mother, and these were children. We saw—yes, even I managed to see them eventually—at least five more.
I wouldn’t have seen them at all if I hadn’t had my grandchildren with me. Later, a line of a song surfaced in the murk of my memory, the line itself like that old turtle, the pond like my mind. I had seen all this “with a little help from my friends.”
The poet Ada Limon’s recent book, The Hurting Kind, keeps catching the reader short with her depictions of nature raw and wonderful. “And, Too, the Fox” slyly turns us to what a fox desires and notices. “He takes only what he needs/ and lives a life that some might/ call small, has few friends, likes/ the grass when it's soft and green, /never cares how long you watch,/ never cares what you need/ when you're watching, never cares/ what you do once he is gone.”
I saw an old turtle. Her life too might be called small. She has few friends. She didn’t care how long I watched, didn’t care what I did once I was gone.
The otherness of the world, this indifference of nature, is surely a pointer to the wonder of our God. His (God’s) is a double wonder: that the world is so strange, and yet he would take on worldly flesh for our sakes.
Out & About. My next preachment will be at St. Matthew’s Cathedral in Dallas on Sunday, August 13, at 9 a.m. and 11:15 a.m.
The next “Good Books & Good Talk” seminar will be at St. Matthew’s Cathedral on Sunday, September 10, at 5 p.m. We will discuss Christopher Beha’s The Index of Self-Destructive Acts.
Announcing future book seminars: October 8: Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather. And November 26: King Lear by Wm. Shakespeare. All seminars are Sundays from 5 to 6:30 p.m. at St. Matthew’s in Dallas.
On the Web. The editor of The New Atlantis argues that we tend to think of “Science” as an abstraction that is just there, a neutral and objective presence; however, to think of “Science” in this way leads to harmful consequences. He brings to mind (doubtless with an eye to the film “Oppenheimer”) the Manhattan Project, when it was clear that science cannot be a neutral or uninvolved but is engaged in political decisions, both for better and for worse. The scientists went to Roosevelt, urged the pursuit of this new technology for social good, and (for some) followed it with lifelong regret. This article has made me ponder how we Christians might better think about science: https://www.thenewatlantis.com/publications/missing-the-manhattan-project