This Field Must Be Saved

How about Greta!

In our UCC Church, we have our own Greta. She is Hannah Huggett. At fourteen she organized the local climate protest. Her mom is having to worry about how many socially conscious, environmental concerns Hannah leads. Somehow Hannah’s able to maintain her extraordinary academic record while she devotes herself to these emergencies.

And Emma, high school daughter of our German friends, organized the protest in her town. Go Emma!  These young women inspire us to work through our retirement.

On Tuesday I was one of the discussion leaders for the community read Julie helped organize for the deeply moving book Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer. If you’ve not read it, well, we recommend it. It will touch your environmental consciousness in a multitude of ways for which you’ll be grateful.

We usually learn ABOUT the natural world. Less commonly do we discover that we can actually have an experiential relationship WITH it. Yes, we can empathize with all we live with.

Thank you, Greta. Thank you, Hannah. Thank you Robin.

This Field Must Be Saved
for Jane Harrington Bach

We will have to grow great waves
of sweetgrass, yarrow, milkweed,
sage, and Queen Anne’s lace.
There must be space
for horses, and an old man
walking through, letting
his fingers brush against
the blooming, letting
his memories wander back
to be breathed in by the horses
as they lighten the air with their tails.

–Jack Ridl

From Between, Dawn Valley Press. Republished in Poems from The Same Ghost and Between (Dawn Valley Press).

Hey! I get to talk with Sal! And you! ON OCTOBER 24, 7-9PM, Douglas United Church of Christ, 56 Wall Street, Douglas. Here are the details and how to order tickets.

Acclaimed prose poet Kathleen McGookey has a collection just out, Instructions for My Imposter from Press 53. In the words of Anne-Marie Oomen, “I feel as though I am reading sacred language.”

Laura Donnelly’s collection, Midwest Gothic, was chosen by Maggie Smith for the Richard Snyder Prize and will be published by Ashland University Press.

Michael Theune is co-editor of Negative Capability: Origins and Afterlives and is co-founder of The Keats Letter Project.

Jennifer Clark has a new collection, A Beginner’s Guide to Heaven from Unsolicited Press. It revels in such wonders as moths, dandelions, dogs, and beer.

Kristin Brace’s book launch for her MSU first book award winning collection Toward the Wild Abundance, Michigan State University Press, will be held today, Thursday, at LowellArts from 7 to 8:15pm.

Phillip Sterling will have a launch for his new book, Amateur Husbandry, Mayapple Press, at LowellArts on October 24 from 6:30-8pm. The book will be released November 1. Preorder from October 1.

The 4th Annual Lost Lake Writers Retreat will be held October 10-13 at the Lost Lake Woods Club in Lincoln, Michigan. The featured writers include Robert Fanning, Allison Downey, Michael Zadorian among others. Information at

Crazy Wisdom Bookstore and Tea Room at 114 S. Main in Ann Arbor will feature Dennis Henrichsen on October 23 and George Tysh and Chris Tysh on December 4. Hosted by Ed Morin and Joe Kelly, the events are from 7-8:45.

The Friends of Poetry–Kalamazoo holds many activities and gatherings. For information contact Elizabeth Kerlikowske or visit their Facebook page.

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Visit Reader’s World or Hope-Geneva Bookstore in Holland, The Bookman in Grand Haven, the Michigan News Agency in Kalamazoo, and The Book Nook & Java Shop in Montague to find Jack’s books in West Michigan.

Jack’s page on Amazon.

Click here to subscribe to receive Jack’s poems and news in your inbox.

Click here for Jack’s entire collection, In Time — poems for the current administration.

Click here to watch Jack’s TedX talk.

Jack at Fetzer Institute on Kindness.

Jack at Fetzer Institute on Everyday Forgiveness.

Jack at Fetzer Institute on Empathy.

Jack Ridl at Fetzer Institute on Suffering and Love.

Beyond Meaning with Jack Ridl, C3: West Michigan’s Spiritual Connection



10 thoughts on “This Field Must Be Saved

  1. Awesome!  Hi jack, I just wanted to reach out and see how your healing is progressing.  I’ve been thinking of you with LOTS of compassion because I had spinal fusion surgery on September 16. Tons of fun, but I’m doing great and hope YOU are as well.  Best, Patti 

    Sent from Yahoo Mail for iPhone

    • Of course your abiding kindness and compassion are steadfast.
      Thanks beyond words.
      I see the surgeon tomorrow. I hope we’re progressing. One does
      weary off pain and restriction; however, I need not tell you that.
      I call myself The Neckless Horseman
      You have lifted my hopes.
      Ever grateful,

    • Oh my gosh. I just shivered. I did. I really really did.
      There is soooooo much in your three sentences that lifts my heart.
      Coming from a master, well. . . I’m staggering for any words.
      I’m at that place where one looks back and hopes he did right by his students. What
      you wrote gives me heart.
      As you may have noticed, I had fun “violating” several TED rules: Walking around,
      going overtime, lugging out a chair. : )
      My gratitude just flew out the door and is knocking on yours.

    • Oh I was hoping you would take in this one for that very reason.
      Thank you for linking ole me with the horses, and for reading
      that image as exactly that–they inspire.
      PS. It was soooooooo good getting to be with Bruce and his
      caring intelligence the other night.

  2. Jack, How strange to get your Braiding Sweetgrass recommendation while seeing 100s of SG baskets in Charleston SC! Peace, Jack

    Jack H. Bender 9182 Bluff Lake St. Zeeland, MI 49464

    H 616-748-9677 M 616-610-1631

    Author, poet, mediator, musician Have you read Disregarded (non-fiction), Moonflower (poetry) and Three Simple Words (poetry)? – blog – website


  3. Oh Jack – I was just with Mary Alice Townsend on Tuesday who told me about Hannah. She – lapsed Catholic – has joined the church with her father recently. They are our hope for the future! And you still are.

    So appreciate the love and care and concern for the world you make us all feel.!


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