There are many Lenten devotionals available, on many different topics. The recently published Wild Hope: Stories for Lent from the Vanishing is a unique and challenging one. It was written by Gayle Boss, author of the Advent devotional All Creation Waits, with woodcut illustrations by David G. Klein. Both books feature detailed and fascinating descriptions of animals but, while All Creation Waits describes how different creatures adapt to winter’s coming, Wild Hope focuses on animal on the brink of extinction, brought there by climate change and the actions of people.
Creatures like the Sumatran orangutan, the koala, and the monarch butterfly are brought to life by Boss’ vivid descriptions. Readers will initially experience awe as they learn about how the various animals obtain food, raise their children, migrate, and find or build shelters. But, in the midst of our admiration for these beings we share the earth with, we are hit with the reality of their slim chances for survival. In the case of the Sumatran orangutan, the trees they inhabit are being destroyed so that plantations of oil palm trees can be built; oil pressed from the trees’ fruit is used in half the packaged products in supermarkets and producers can’t keep up with demand.
What has all this to do with Lent? As Boss explains in her introduction, “The season means to rouse us from our self-absorption.” She notes also that the purpose of Lent is to awaken us to the true state of our hearts and the world, which “wakes in us a wild hope that something new might be born of the ruin.” It is hard to read this book without experiencing a yearning to do something for these disappearing animals. The book provides an afterword with a list of the groups working to protect each of the 25 creatures described; the list is also available on Paraclete Press’ website, along with an excerpt from the book and a group discussion guide.
Along with Wild Hope, Paraclete offers other new books for Lent including Lead Us Not Into Temptation, a daily study in loyalty, and Let Me Go There, a daily companion for the six weeks of Lent. If you’re looking for a book for children, I highly recommend Paraclete Press’ Make Room: A Child’s Guide to Lent and Easter by Laura Alary.
A review copy of this book was provided by the publisher.