A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of spending a few days in the south west corner of North Carolina. Renting a cabin in the woods in the Smoky Mountains provided a wonderful opportunity for walking in the woods. Many of my walks were made more pleasurable by the steady cadence of fast flowing rivers punctuated by majestic waterfalls. The trees and leaves glistened in the refracted sunlight of October days. The area brought back memories of time spent in the Lake District of north west England. The latter is a majestic landscape of hills and lakes, shaped by an ice age of some 20-30,000 years ago! The Lake District played an important part in the life and writings of some of the best English poets, and writers, William Wordsworth, Charles Lamb, and Samuel Taylor Coleridge and much later Beatrix Potter. Wordsworth spent his childhood years in Cockermouth in a house that backed to the River Derwent. In later years he returned to the area and made his home in Grasmere! In his Prelude which is an autobiographical poem in which he remembers his childhood and shares thoughts on the importance of nature, believing a love of nature can lead to love of humankind. Ponder his remembering the joy he had as a young boy playing in the river Derwent as it flowed by his home. What childhood memories does this poem stir in you of childhood days, rivers, fields, clouds, and all things of nature? Listen to the music of the river.
from The Prelude: Book 1: Childhood and School-time
by William Wordsworth
—Was it for this
That one, the fairest of all Rivers, lov’d
To blend his murmurs with my Nurse’s song,
And from his alder shades and rocky falls,
And from his fords and shallows, sent a voice
That flow’d along my dreams? For this, didst Thou,
O Derwent! travelling over the green Plains
Near my ‘sweet Birthplace’, didst thou, beauteous Stream
Make ceaseless music through the night and day
Which with its steady cadence, tempering
Our human waywardness, compos’d my thoughts
To more than infant softness, giving me,
Among the fretful dwellings of mankind,
A knowledge, a dim earnest, of the calm
That Nature breathes among the hills and groves.
When, having left his Mountains, to the Towers
Of Cockermouth that beauteous River came,
Behind my Father’s House he pass’d, close by,
Along the margin of our Terrace Walk.
He was a Playmate whom we dearly lov’d.
Oh! many a time have I, a five years’ Child,
A naked Boy, in one delightful Rill,
A little Mill-race sever’d from his stream,
Made one long bathing of a summer’s day,
Bask’d in the sun, and plunged, and bask’d again
Alternate all a summer’s day, or cours’d
Over the sandy fields, leaping through groves
Of yellow grunsel, or when crag and hill,
The woods, and distant Skiddaw’s lofty height,
Were bronz’d with a deep radiance, stood alone
Beneath the sky, as if I had been born
On Indian Plains, and from my Mother’s hut
Had run abroad in wantonness, to sport,
A naked Savage, in the thunder shower…
the psalmists words come to mind,
“the earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof;
the world , and they that dwell therein
for he hath founded it upon the seas, and
established it upon the floods..”
I rejoice today in the beauty of nature.
All around us we observe a restless earth.
All around us we observe nature’s peril brought
about by our reckless choices and selfish disregard
for nature’s delicate balance.
Forgive our failure in caring for nature.
Renew in me, and in us all, the desire to be faithful
tenants of this bountiful earth. Amen.