After a day of work I come home to two activities that quiet and center my soul. The first involves visiting the hens. I gather whatever eggs have been laid, feed the hens, check their water, and every other day clean the poop out of their coop. Greta, Chicken Little, Liesel, and Penelope are particularly glad to see me and bow so I can pet them (I’m their substitute rooster). They look and hope for a tidbit from the kitchen, garden, or a grub or worm I’ve picked up along the way. These gentle, eager creatures that supply my husband Mark and me with fertilizer, pest control, and eggs remind me that I am part of creation, just as they are.

The second activity that centers my soul is walking to the mailbox. On the coldest, rainiest days I take a direct path, but I prefer the one that winds through the forest, crosses the creek where it tumbles and falls near the cistern, and then takes me across the road to the mailbox. I return by way of the beehives. If the cedar bench by the creek is dry, I rest there for a few minutes. I can smell, feel, hear, touch, and see God’s love and sustaining presence. In the summer the bench is nearly hidden in an alcove surrounded by shrubs and ferns growing along the creek’s edge. A holy place. On sunny days I may sit by the hives for a few minutes instead, watching the comings and goings of bees bringing home nectar and pollen.

I haven’t always lived this way. It took a long while to give myself permission to explore a life that sounded a bit too much like hippie pantheism. What I’ve come to see is that loving, engaging, and tending God’s creation is fundamentally Christian and honors the One who commissioned us to be God’s representatives on Earth. We are physical beings, and spiritual formation happens as we engage our physical world in just and loving ways.

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