My father, a PhD botanist and professor of biology at Emory University, spent most of his professional life studying the flora of granite outcrops in the south, of which there are way too many to number. On many summer or spring breaks, Dad would load the entire family into the car, and off we would travel to explore these sites with him. It was always an adventure that we looked forward to; a break in what could all too easily become a humdrum, day-to-day existence. Even when temperatures soared to 100 plus on those exposed rocks, simply being with Dad, discovering new and thriving species in the harsh environs, was reward enough.
Perhaps, because the month of March denotes Dad's passing in 2014, this memory returns to me, strong and vibrant. I am immediately called to write it down. And one thing I've learned over the years of trusting in God, when the nudge comes from Him, acknowledge and act! The following poem is my answer to the Lord's inspiration.
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
The Who I Am
Our car pulls up, stops at homestead
In need of paint and reparation
Neglect not caused by aspiration
But only means to make it happen
Mom, brother and I watch
As Dad approaches gates of hell
In asking for permission to
Explore a hidden pearl-rich outcrop
On the land owned and valued
By this family. It belongs
For generations to them all
Dad's Yankee accent, did he hide?
Had he learned the lilt and lisp
Of quaint Southern inflection
To convince reluctant owner
And sanction Dad's wish to trespass?
Whatever transpired, the path was clear
But I will ever recall, photo sharp
The two sons, wistful, overall clad,
Who meet my gaze with wonder, longing
For that which other children have
And I, in unexpected union
Find myself wishing to trade
My life with theirs, authentic, true
Because that's what I glean and gain
From their poor in spirit gazes
Rich in God's comforting wisdom
For there begins the who they are
And there begins the who I am