May 4, 2015: Saunters With God in Nature

~by Virginia Rhys Anson, OFS

“Gray Replaces Greens” came out of my dismay at a dual plight, that of the Native Americans and that of my beloved nature. I grew up in New Mexico and became quite fond of mountain and desert nature and the cultures of the Navajo, Apache, and Pueblo Native Americans. I seem to have osmosed some of the philosophy of Native Americans concerning our relationship with nature. I think they and my parents have bonded me very closely with my treasured nature.

Throughout my adult life, I have intensely studied various Native American tribes, particularly the Lakota Sioux. I feel like I have grown close to them. Sometimes I feel like I harbor a Native American spirit. It seems to blend well with my Franciscan spirit.

The original version of this poem was written about a couple of decades ago, likely after reading about their involuntary relocation to reservations. When some of the Native American tribes were forced onto reservations, they unwillingly left their much-loved land and the nature that fed them. They were also forced to live in the white man’s square and rectangular homes even though they evolved in circular tipis. The circle, from my understanding, was spiritual power to them. It seemed as if, once their circular homes were taken, so was their power, and so was their spirit.

This poem emphasizes their loss of their cherished circle, which I morphed into the circle of life. I further place myself in the person of the Native American man in the poem. Both of us lament the continued loss of nature and humanity’s raping of the land and animal life.

Gray Replace Greens

His eyes stare far into the distant sky
Long ago scenes play fondly in his mind.
Times when deer foraged amidst clover and bark
And eagles soared above cliff’s jagged crest
Days when tribes lived free among yucca and pine.
This day, from within square walls,
He partakes a nature
That laments forests
Long since memory’s guest.
Tipi’s cirque once imparted powers
That square did cruelly slay.
The powers that for him
Be the precious cirque of life.
Cement towers and steel cities
Usurped the nature of his youth.
The Creator’s Earth lies stripped and wounded.
Forests leveled
Herds hunted to extinction’s brink
Its toll did barbarously take.
Toxins taint rivers.
Stacks replace maples.
Grays arise where greens once grew
Sickened and befouled, those pristine lands.
He contemplates the state
Of the land so deeply cherished
Of days of youthful innocence
When nature reigned
Wild and free.
Crevices hold abundant tears
From eyes now not so keen.
No longer be the days
When he beholds
His dear, unblemished Earth.


Virginia Anson grew up in the shadows of Sandia Crest in New Mexico. Family camping trips may have sparked her passion for nature. She holds an A.S. in Electronics Technology, a B.A. in Writing, an M.F.A. in Creative Writing, and a certificate in Wildlife/Forestry Conservation. Her book, Mother Earth’s Caretakers, targets middle school youngsters and is published as an e-book for Kindle. Virginia is a Vietnam Era veteran of the U.S. Air Force, and her volunteer endeavors see her as a lector, Eucharistic minister, and sacristan in her parish and as a habitat steward for the National Wildlife Federation. She especially cherishes her life in the Secular Franciscan Order, following in the footsteps of St. Francis of Assisi.

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