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Reviews

Blueink Review

Lessons of Nature from a Modern-Day Shepherd
Don F. Pickett AuthorHouse, 107 pages, (paperback) $13.99, 978-1-5462-20169
(Reviewed: May 2018)

In this wide-ranging collection of spiritually rich meditations, rancher and farmer Don F. Pickett offers readers thought-provoking insights into the often-ignored relationship between humans and the natural world.

Mixing poignant storytelling, poetry, and pensive reflections, Pickett’s book looks to map the metaphorical rivers that connect the visible world of material things (landscape, the sun, trees, and all creatures great and small) and the invisible world of spiritual things (love, longing and God). It’s in these tributaries where we can seek out “eternal happiness” or “eternal misery.” The choice, the author argues, is ultimately ours.

The world, the author posits, is a more magnificent place than what we often perceive; to see the handiwork of the “great Creator” we just need to seek out the signs that are often obscured by the “artificial, man-made environment” in which most of us live today. This can be difficult, Pickett admits, but shepherds, those itinerant herdsmen who were entrusted with the revelation of Christ’s birth, can guide us to a heightened sense of awareness and truth. “A shepherd holds a deep appreciation and sense of responsibility for our Creator’s natural resources,” Pickett writes, “and he is careful to avoid degradation.” While he’s writing literally of a shepherd’s character, metaphorically he’s calling us to appreciate our earth and be stewards of our environment.

Pickett covers an abundance of topics as he waxes philosophic on the intelligence of plants, the cycles of life and death, the anatomy of an anthill, phototropism, and the stars as maps for travel—and how each relates to our daily lives.

This book is a gem. Pickett’s intelligent, heartfelt prose delivers a true celebration of life, as well as practical insights on how we can pay attention to the rhythm of creation around us. Fans of Barry Lopez, Edward Abbey, John O’Donohue and Paulo Coelho will find much to relish in this book that calls us to cultivate a more contemplative dimension within our souls.

Also available in hardcover and ebook.
 

U.S. Review of Books

Lessons of Nature, from a Modern-Day Shepherd
by Don F. Pickett
AuthorHouse

reviewed by Barbara Bamberger Scott

“Shepherds witness biological life begin and end on a regular basis.”

Shepherds have time to contemplate life in its wholeness. This could begin with a shepherd alone with his dog and his flock, poking a stick into the earth and seeing a worm—leading him to wonder how life comes to be and to consider that humans can’t create even such a simple lifeform as an earthworm. When a shepherd studies the sky, he will marvel at the heavenly presence of light—not merely something to be turned on or off with a switch but a pale blue miracle that has both physical and spiritual capabilities. The dog’s bark or the bleating of a lamb reminds him that there are sounds the human ear can’t hear and cause him to ponder whether communication can take place without sound. A campfire suggests that even in the darkness his Creator offers an “armor of light.” The shepherd’s mental wanderings will lead to ideas regarding government, science, and the construction of man’s laws, which are sometimes in contradiction with natural law or God’s law. Will God’s system ultimately prevail? All these grand ideas may come to someone whose life is spent alone in nature.

Pickett’s book is a kind of protracted sermon, always focused on the Creator and the creation as seen from the viewpoint of a person whose status in life may seem to some rather humble and insignificant and whose time is largely spent separated from mechanical and technological devices. The author uses footnotes and occasional biblical or other religious quotations to underscore his ideas. Each chapter begins with a well-constructed poem by Pickett, utilizing clever rhyme schemes to illustrate certain points. The overall result is a charming, intelligent work of spiritual speculation based on carefully examined Christian ideals.

RECOMMENDED by the US Review

 

Kirkus Reviews

LESSONS OF NATURE, FROM A MODERN-DAY SHEPHERD
Don F. Pickett
AuthorHouse (118 pp.)
$23.99 hardcover, $13.99 paperback, $3.99 e-book
ISBN: 978-1-5462-2014-5; December 7, 2017

BOOK REVIEW

A shepherd challenges modern scientists and their ability to capture the works of God in this debut book.

Dedicated to the youth of America, Pickett’s 15 lessons explore nature and God. The author tells of a solitary, wizened figure—the shepherd—whose life exists somewhat outside the realm of popular science and contemporary understandings of the physical world. But his daily interactions with the Earth and its animals have afforded him insights modern scientists might never acquire. For Pickett, the educated people of the world may consider themselves enlightened, but they fail to appreciate how awe-inspiring nature and the God who created it are. “Their self-proclaimed wisdom barely elevates them above the intelligence of a fool, and it will profit them nothing,” he writes. The author questions scientists’ dismissal of the spiritual and their capacity to become true creators, asserting that even if they can claim to understand the processes of plants and cells, they could never perfectly re-create even a small worm. General lessons about life are to be found from the shepherd’s perspective as well. These include the use of shortcuts (the shepherd understands that men with idle time will come to resemble predators) and how life’s greatest dangers will start slowly and then multiply, just like bugs, dirt, and disease. Each lesson begins with a poem that deftly sets the tone for the short chapter through simple rhyming couplets (“There’s another side to living things / that people fail to see, / If earth had only the elements / no life could ever be”). But Pickett’s prose never strays far from poetic, almost transcendental language. His writing is abstract and lovely in comparison to the scientific notions his shepherd is challenging. “This is a world in which all living things inherit the seeds of death,” he writes, delivering the shepherd’s view of disease. While this style creates some elegant passages, it makes the book feel quite lofty and disconnected, which can hamper Pickett’s ability to present persuasive arguments.

A beautifully crafted, if not entirely convincing, meditation on humanity’s different ways of looking at nature and God.