This poem started brewing as I was going about the meditative task of cleaning some muddy fossils (mostly Ordovician marine invertebrates) at the kitchen sink. It is truly remarkable to polish up a 450-million-year-old crinoid, the "sea lilies of the field" as they were, using what I consider an "old" toothbrush! While I marvel at the fossilized remains of these creatures, they must have been so much more marvelous in their time, praising God with their being, like the Leviathan of Psalm 104. I often feel a tinge of regret thinking about the spectacular beasts I "just missed" by virtue of being born in the late Holocene; gomphotheres, glyptodonts, moas, cave bears—amazing, every one of them—and our lives fail to overlap by a geologic blink of the eye, mere tens of thousands of years or even less. This, in turn, makes me wonder about the fate of those species we are "just about to miss," due to our chronic failures as stewards of creation. God's promise of a redeemed creation is fuzzy in the details, but all these species seem too wonderful to leave out of it; I suspect I'll be able to leave the old toothbrush behind.
"The New Plant and Animal Kingdoms"
by Steve Roels
Cleaning fossils today I was
wondering what species will be on the New Earth.
If the Leviathan was formed to frolic in the sea,
surely there will be more than just Homo sapiens
celebrating God’s eternal glory.
But could ALL of them be part of the Kingdom?
The saber-toothed cat could lie down
with the ground sloth, I suppose.
Might I rejoice in the strength of Apatosaurus
as Yahweh did in the Jurassic?
Perhaps only those species alive at Christ’s return
will join us, but if so, Lord, come quickly!
Our forests of Boswellia sacra are dwindling;
without them, there will be no frankincense to anoint you.
If the Cedars of Lebanon are lost to a changing climate,
I pray to see them again as New Temple beams.
We fail to play Noah on our blue-green ark
and I hope those lost ones will greet us
in glory and offer forgiveness.
When I meet Mary’s sister, Martha,
may she cradle, Martha, the last Passenger Pigeon, in hand.
Would best of all be the Creator
continuing to evolve more forms
so that His joy may be even more complete?
Steve Roels holds a bachelor's in biology from Calvin College and a master's in ecology and evolutionary biology from the University of Kansas. He is currently working on a PhD in zoology at Michigan State University. He is a member of River Terrace Christian Reformed Church in East Lansing, MI.