Skip to content

Ornithologist Drew Lanham reads a passage from ‘The Home Place: Memoirs of a Colored Man’s Love Affair with Nature’

Krista’s conversation with him is our episode: ‘I Worship Every Bird that I See.’

Drew Lanham: “If teaching is preaching, I’ve become a warmer, gentler pastor, more like the clergy at my mother’s church. Maybe it’s appropriate that these years have given me new spiritual release, too. I’ve settled into a comfortable place with the idea of nature and god being the same thing. Evolution, gravity, change, and the dynamic transformation of field into forest move me. A warbler migrating over hundreds of miles of land and ocean to sing in the same tree, once again, is as miraculous to me as any dividing sea. Doing good things for and revering nature are just acts. There is righteousness in conserving things, staving off extinction, and simply admiring the song of a bird. In my moments of confession in front of strangers, talking about my love of something much greater than any one of us, I become a freer me. Each time, I’m reborn.

For all those years of running from anything resembling religion, and all the scientific training that tells me to doubt anything outside of the prescribed confidence limits, I find myself defined these days more by what I cannot see than by what I can. As I wander into the predawn dark of an autumn wood, I feel the presence of things beyond flesh, bone, and blood. My being expands to fit the limitlessness of the wild world. My senses flush to full, and my heartbeat quickens with the knowledge that I am not alone.”

Share your reflection