Our feet are standing within your gates, O Jerusalem. – Psalm 122:2 (NRSV)
One of the things you’re supposed to outgrow as you get older is the sense that things are people. You’re supposed to let go of the suspicion that your house cares who lives in it, your blankie knows how you feel, the trees notice you walking under them. Sorry, Puff; Jackie Paper’s all grown up.
This is why poetry that directly addresses inanimate objects may sound faintly embarrassing to you. It feels like it comes from an earlier stage of human development, back before humanity turned off the cartoons and got a job.
And yet, being shaped, sometimes profoundly, by the land and the buildings you live in, the objects you cherish, the tools you use, isn’t something you grow out of. Neither is your emotional response to that shaping, whether it’s gratitude for shelter, appreciation of the ocean’s beauty, or anger at the thing you just stubbed your toe on.
Every item has a little bit of God in it. Each thing bears its Maker’s mark. Go ahead. Recite an ode to your coffee. Thank your church building for all it has held—or curse it, depending. Throw your arms out and praise the morning sun. They’re probably not going to talk back to you, but that doesn’t mean they’re not worth addressing. One way or another, the words will land where they ought to. And anyway, the landing isn’t as important as the saying.
Just don’t use the word “O” when you do it. No need to make it weird.
Missive most blessed! Noble email of brevity and grace! Speed thy way thro’ sparking wires, wing thro’ wi-fied air, and touch thy reader’s soul with the feather of thy devotion.
Quinn G. Caldwell is a father, husband, homesteader and preacher living in rural upstate New York. His most recent book is a series of daily reflections for Advent and Christmas called All I Really Want: Readings for a Modern Christmas. Learn more about it and find him on Facebook at Quinn G. Caldwell.