By Jeffrey A. Lockwood
Review by Tamara Bila
The book that I have chosen is Prairie Soul: Finding Grace in the Earth Beneath My Feet. It was published in 2004 by Skinner House Books in Boston, Ma 02108-2800. The ISBN is 1-55896-471-1. Lockwood is a phenomenally successful and celebrated author who has been the recipient of multiple literary merit awards. Additionally, he is a professor at the University of Wyoming and an entomologist, a scientist who specializes in the study of insect life cycles. Prairie Soul is the fourth of ten published works that Lockwood has authored.
This book is a nonfiction guide on how one person’s soul interacts with the natural world all around them. His words teach readers to pay attention to the smallest details and consider their impact may be much more critical than anticipated. Lockwood shares memories of his parents, connections he feels to Wyoming Landscapes, and how he has passed to his beliefs to children. He argues that the land not only keeps our souls grounded but connects us to everything there is to experience. Spirituality and morality move hand in hand through each passage. There are a lot of valuable reasons this book should be recognized as a literary achievement. On the back-cover poet, Robert Roripaugh describes it as an exploration of “spirituality, religion in science and the importance of family and friendship.” Prairie Soul should be a must-read for any college student interested in understanding and accepting their responsibilities to the world and themselves. Its themes connect people from all backgrounds and connect them through nature.
Here is a small passage from the chapter “Baring My Soles” on page 31 that I feel expresses the value and sentiment that Prairie Soul: Finding Grace in the Earth Beneath My Feet has to offer. “I remove my shoes for a stroll around the block, and there’s something worthwhile in extending my stride just a tad to step over a pavement ant. Most often, I put on my shoes for an evening’s amble with my life, and there is something meaningful in extending our walk another few minutes to greet a neighbor. In either case- extending an inch or a moment- at least I have offered a reason for a fellow being to have a thinner shell. When we move more slowly and mindfully, our corner of the world is not just a different place. It’s a better place”. There are many examples similar to this, where Lockwood expresses the value of caring for even the smallest piece of life with the same value and amount of love that you would show to your most important family members and loved ones. He expresses how our souls find balance and peace in treating all things gently and with respect.
I had an incredibly positive reaction to this reading. I found value in the message provided and connections he expressed as life-changing. There was a time when I did not know how to express these ideas, but knowing that many other people also experience these desires made me find peace in my life as well.