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  • Eric Kampmann

All Creatures Great and Small

Sing joyfully to the Lord, you righteous; it is fitting for the

upright to praise him. Praise the Lord with the harp; make

music to him on the ten-stringed lyre. Sing to him a new song;

play skillfully, and shout for joy. For the word of the Lord is

right and true; he is faithful in all he does. The Lord loves

righteousness and justice; the earth is full of his unfailing love.

—Psalm 33:1–5

Many years ago, I walked forty-three miles of the Appalachian Trail in central Pennsylvania. I have many reasons for returning to the roots and rocks of the trail, but perhaps chief among them is the desire to break out of the artificial box I construct for myself as I maneuver through the concrete cityscape aspect of my life.

I suspect that I need to get closer to the earth itself to refresh my mind and revive memories of all the small marvels that move about with quiet intention all around my feet. Whole worlds of tiny beings seem to go about their important business, oblivious to my presence or even my existence.

The big things, like the mighty Susquehanna River or a powerful midnight storm or even the splendid beauty of the rolling hills of cultivated farmland do generally catch the eye and cause me to stop to enjoy the quiet wonder of it all. When viewed through the lens of the poetic imagination, though, it is the smaller things of the land, the insects and tiny creatures that suggest order and resolve and purpose rather than inscrutability and aimless disorder. For me the trail suggests coherence, but I need to slow down in order to see it at work, and that requires I put aside my singular drive to get from here to there. So give me the trail any day, for it provides me with bigger themes through the miracle of its smallest creatures.

—Eric Kampmann, Signposts

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