It’s just some soil and sky,
Strange that it can get,
Its hooks into my ribs.
And make me feel so,
To mere sky and soil.
It’s just rocks and rivers,
It’s only an auburn autumn forest alive with dying fiery bursts of orange and gold, great swaths of spectacular hills and hollers nestled in gorges and (usually) green—green going on and on and on for miles and mountains, modest though they are.
They are ours and we are free,
And it’s the mountaineers, more than the mountains,
That bind me in this archaic, unspoken allegiance.
Kinship isn’t everything,
But neither is it nothing.
There is room in the world for loving,
Though scorn is heaped on sincerity,
And rural second-caste citizens,
Are denigrated daily and overlooked always,
While sophisticated cities with disconnected citizens influence us in inordinate and destructive independence and addictive selfishness,
Spurning what smacks of tradition,
Haughtily mocking what passes for devotion,
And we have let them lead us,
Let them show us how to lead hollow lives.
Ichabod, oh my God,
The glory, it has faded away.
It’s not that simple, no.
Blame is the game of victims,
And responsibility is the act of the valiant.
If we can’t own what we’ve got,
We get owned.
And we can’t be owned,
Because mountaineers are always free.
Free to be happy?
Free to be hopeful?
Only if we’re free enough to be humble.
Only if we exchange victimhood for servanthood.
Only if we trade self-centered worship for Reality,
With the Maker of the mountains,
The Shaper of the gorges,
The Lord of all the forests.
The Painter of sunsets,
The Poet of romance,
The Father to the fatherless.
Healer, Helper, Hopesource.
Lover, Lifter, Lifeforce.
The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel,
Ain’t a stranger to our place,
Won’t flinch at our deep pain,
But by his holy name,
Will welcome and restore us,
Will unmake all our horrors,
And give us life in him.
And true, good, and beautiful,