Walk softly and carry.

When I walk through the woods,

I am always amazed at the wreckage I find there;

trees uprooted, branches down;

clutter and garbage and trails half cut.

Some of this is natural —

some has an external source

but I am teaching myself to see each disturbance

as potential habitat.

Not for me – I’m far to practical

to want to live in the bush

under the roots of a long dead tree –

but for all the things whose tracks lead me to believe

that the forest teems with life.

It makes me think differently of the wreckage of our lives –

some of it natural;

death, disease and the fickle nature of relationship –

some has an external source –

but I believe that each disaster

creates a kind of habitation within us;

a habitat for hope.


Thus far, such pithy sentiment

has much to recommend it.

It reads like something you would find

in a really expensive Hallmark card© –

and if I, in my capacity

as minister of Word and Sacrament

were to use this illustration

in a funeral meditation,

or on a Sunday morning,

many in the congregation

would nod and smile.

But somewhere, someone would –

with nothing but good intentions –

want to know how I came to this conclusion.

How can hope be born of disaster?

What Scripture proves your point?

But my point is not to be proven.

Empirical data is a luxury

not many can afford.

The truth of hope

from hellish circumstance

is one that must be seen (and felt)

and lived to be believed

Just as the truth of scripture

can be found in real life truths,

confirmed only by our experiencing them.

J R Lackie

February 3, 2010 – Thorburn, NS


4 thoughts on “Walk softly and carry.

  1. Yes, I do know what you mean – in that way it has long helped me to understand the dynamic and ‘living’ quality of what is an ancient and otherwise static set of texts. Lyrical vestments – I like that very much; as a Presbyterian with our (often) excessive dependence on word (over Sacrament), I think that phrase can serve as a very useful starting point to help folks understand our liturgy. And maybe it’s not so out of place at Starbucks (or Tim Horton’s, in my case…)

  2. I think that you and I suffer from a similar “disease”… I cannot really explain it. It is a love of scripture that will not release us from its use, even when we’ve said what we have to say without referring to it specifically. Help or hindrance? Both, I think, at times; as a kind of lyrical vestments, which may serve a function on Sunday mornings, but look kind of out of place at Starbucks. Know what I mean?

    Be that as it may, this piece was, in my opinion, some of your best stuff to date. I really, really liked it! All three times I read it.

  3. Not sure about the last part, but the poem is wonderful. There’s an old path I used to walk, not very well tended, I would have to clamber over dead tree-trunks to get to its end—it came out on a beach, where there was even more debris. “Wreckage” is a good word for it, although I never thought of it as part of me. Really nature is nature, and we’re all alone.

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