I Hear the Bells of Nature’s Church

I hear the bells of Nature’s church,

So, on my cap, and off to search

A lightened pack of curiosity, joy

Not felt so strong since yet a boy

I bend to grasp my walkingstick

And saunter deep to forest thick

One eye a telescope to scan the distant ways

One eye a microscope the ants, beetles afoot amaze

And now a choir draws my ear

Just passed the peaceful grazing deer

Anthem familiar, hymn pure and sweet

I quicken steps with lighter feet

The wood-en door swings wide to show

A stream and falls in full-singing flow

I sit to listen on a boulder pew

With a smile of knowing I’m of the chosen few

A voice beyond the cascade rises

Calls to higher altars—spiritual surprises

I leap the stones with expectation

Senses alive to wild exhortation

The woods grew darker, the way unclear

Though feeling lost, I lost all fear

When near, above me the sermon came

Upon a pulpit a tongue untame

The wisdom spoken, the courage pronounced

A truth unbroken, good news announced

With words unhuman, no words indeed

The sound sufficient, a heart to lead

The preacher ascended in feathery robe

And left me stunned with meaning to probe

For the owl herself had only said

What I already knew, What I’d already read

The scriptures and sermons, the choirs and prayer

Are all open to everyone anytime there

There in the wild inspiring places

The congregants greet you with furry, feathery faces

Your fellow parishioners shuffle, scurry, slither and fly

Teach like the trees, the mountains, the sky

And if you are listening and open each day

You might hear the bells, as they gladly, out there, call away.

c. Chris Highland 2009


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