I read the following poem in a collection of Oswald J. Smith’s poetry entitled Poems of a Lifetime. It encapsulates the idea that many people have both, Christian and otherwise, that cities are man’s invention and thus dark and filled with evil, while the countryside and nature are God’s invention and therefore good, pure, and wholesome. Is this dichotomy true? More after the break.
Back to the Prairies
I want to go back to the prairies,
Away from the bustle and din;
I’m tired of the noise of the city,
I long for God’s presence within.
Then take me again to the prairies
And leave me alone with my Lord;
His voice I can hear in the silence
And there I can feed on His Word.
The fields with their distant horizons,
The skies up above me so high
Remind me each day of His goodness
And bid me in faith to draw nigh.
The cattle that roam in their thousands,
The wheat as it waves in the air
Proclaim all His riches in Glory
And tell of God’s wonderful care.
I want to go back to the prairies
Where all is so peaceful and still;
The home that I knew in my childhood,
The place I discovered God’s will.
‘Twas man who constructed the city,
The prairies are God’s own design;
They tell me of infinite mercy
Where all God’s treasures are mine.
I’m thinking tonight of the prairies,
The days of the long, long ago,
The home where I prayed with God’s children
And learned the dear Saviour to know.
The world may pronounce me a dreamer
And leave me alone by the way,
But once I am back on the prairies
God’s presence is with me each day.
To Redd Harper
Herbert, Sask., 1952. (p 173).
I can certainly sympathise with Smith’s thoughts on this subject as I spent four years in Saskatchewan and truly loved the prairies. However, we need to remember that heaven is pictured as a city in the book of Revelation, not as a renewed garden of Eden/prairie. Why is that? I believe it is because in heaven all human relationships will be perfected and thus we will enjoy one another much more than the bald prairie. We will desire to be in the city with others rather than alone with God “out there.” There is certainly a place for taking retreat in the country but let us not dichotomise between God’s design and Man’s design.