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A View From Above

How the birds must puzzle as they fly above the Midwest,

the Northwest;

When they fly over the Great Plains,

the Great Mountains.


I flew over the Great Plains. There I saw the grid of man

Laid out in straight lines marking plots and straight roads making access

a higher priority than aesthetic.

To like graph paper we have turned these plains,

Upon which to chart yield production and calculate field efficiency;

Upon which to write out our theories.

It’s easier if green becomes white;

if land becomes blank space,

if free becomes bounded hectare;

if fruitfulness becomes mass measured in kilograms.

What happens when our theories are scrapped?

The birds must puzzle over this strange kind of order.


I flew over the Great mountains. There I saw man’s soft print

Not on but with nature. Meandering roads and property lines like riverways

went, as if asking to be excused; as if being led as the land directs.

Here the land has its own aesthetic and formidable freedom,

And bids men to the order of stewardship.

It’s better if ranges become vistas

if perilous beauty becomes beauty

if the straight line becomes contoured

if order accords with nature

What happens when man’s domination is coram domino?

Perhaps the harmonious song of the birds can tell.


Joshua Schendel

Joshua Schendel

Joshua is the executive editor of Modern Reformation magazine. He holds a PhD from St. Louis University, a MAHT from Westminster Seminary California. He, his wife, Bethanne, and their three kids live in Southern California.

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