"For I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground: I will pour my spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thine offspring: And they shall spring up as among the grass, as willows by the water courses." - Isaiah 44:3-4 (KJV)
The "willows by the water courses" have disappeared in many parts of the rural west.
The willows have been overgrazed by overpopulations of deer and elk. Without the willows, the beavers have nothing to work with. Without the beavers' water-retaining dams, the winter waters run off faster. As the streams run faster, they cut straighter channels. Which means that the water runs off even faster. And the fish have few still waters in which to build redds and to spawn. And the land is waterless for longer and longer stretches.
Something is missing. "Water?" you might say. Nope, wolves.
Wolves. Wolves had been hunted to extinction.
With wolves re-introduced, early in this century, the elk and deer population has in some places returned to what it needed to be for the willows to grow, for the beavers to work, for the streams to wind, for the fish to spawn, for the land to hold its water, and for life to flourish.
What an intricate, careful web of relationships You, O God, have created in this amazing world.
Mending broken relationships is not only personal, it is our work as stewards of God's creation. While the bad news on this front is often overwhelming, there is more that can be mended than we know.
Speak hope to our despair for the mending and care of your awesome creation. Amen.
Tony Robinson, a United Church of Christ minister, is a speaker, teacher, and writer. He is the author of many books, including What’s Theology Got to Do With It: Convictions, Vitality and the Church. You can read Tony's "Weekly Meditation" and "What's Tony Thinking?" at his website, www.anthonybrobinson.com.