O Lord, what a variety of things you have made!
In wisdom you have made them all.
The earth is full of your creatures.
Here is the ocean, vast and wide,
teeming with life of every kind,
both large and small.
See the ships sailing along,
and Leviathan, which you made to play in the sea.
They all depend on you
to give them food as they need it.
When you supply it, they gather it.
You open your hand to feed them,
and they are richly satisfied.
But if you turn away from them, they panic.
When you take away their breath,
they die and turn again to dust.
When you give them your breath, life is created,
and you renew the face of the earth.
May the glory of the Lord continue forever!
The Lord takes pleasure in all he has made!
The earth trembles at his glance;
the mountains smoke at his touch.
I will sing to the Lord as long as I live.
I will praise my God to my last breath!
May all my thoughts be pleasing to him,
for I rejoice in the Lord….
Let all that I am praise the Lord.
Praise the Lord! (New Living Translation)
The earth is a complex ecosystem, alive and teeming with all kinds of creatures and exuberant nature. All of creation knows and depends on its Creator. The earth bears its Creator’s fascination.
The world is wonderfully intricate, its vast natural systems working in sync to flourish across the earth. All creation lives with confidence in God’s sustaining grace. Humanity, along with the rest of creation, is to sing and praise the God who has made life possible by means of the powerful Spirit.
This same Spirit which worked in creation, animates all creatures, and has left the imprint of God’s likeness on humans, is the very same Spirit which came upon the little band of believers at Pentecost, as well as being the very same Spirit which is given to you and me as followers of Jesus.
Just as we listen to the ancient voices of Holy Scripture lift up the name of Jesus; and, just as we listen for the Holy Spirit to guide us in the name of Jesus Christ, so we are to listen to the voice of creation praise God.
In a society expectant of all things fast – fast food, fast cars, fast service, fast everything – there is something profoundly spiritual about slowing down to listen to God’s Spirit speaking through God’s creation. Even though we, at times, encounter difficulties which limit us and slow us down, these very situations afford us the opportunity to listen.
Today, when you eat your meals, I invite you to take the time to chew slowly, thanking God in a rhythm of praise which is connected to the gratitude of each bite. Connect with the reality that eating comes from the earth’s generosity.
When walking the dog, do it slowly, listening to the sounds of creation around you. Hear the wind blowing, the trees swaying, the water rushing, the birds singing. They all give praise and adoration to the God who is pleased to fill creation with divine splendor.
The lack of listening, the refusal to truly hear, was at the core of Adam and Eve’s fall from paradise. Ever since, people have been tainted with spiritual deafness. We must, once again, learn the vital skill of listening well.
Opening to the sounds of creation can reopen us to our divine image, which has never been lost – perhaps just buried so deep within that we are many times not in touch with it. Listening to creation also enables us to hear how it groans under humanity’s poor stewardship of the earth.
The whole of creation is always singing; it is just a matter of whether we are listening, or not.
When spending time in nature, ask yourself:
How is God’s glory and love reflected in creation?
In what way is your hope renewed or your heart stirred in response?
How might I be a proper and faithful steward of this earth around me?
Do I feel a connection with the land? Why, or why not?
Every morning for generations, the Native American Iroquois people have greeted the dawn with thanksgiving.
“It is an honor to be a human being and to have been invited into the circle of Creation,” they say to the Creator. Beginning with the grass and the trees, the Iroquois express gratitude for the other plants, the water, the wind, the sun, the moon, and the stars.
I myself have also found a deep connection with God in the morning amongst nature. Greeting the Creator, as well as the oak trees and lilac bushes near my home, give me the ability to frame my upcoming day with awareness. As I am present and mindful to creation, so I find myself more present and aware to the people who need my focused attention.
Sadly, there are people who have never known the joy of walking barefoot through the grass; the wonder of staring into the night sky full of stars; and the sublime silence in which to hear the voice of God.
There are whole segments of our global family who have never had clean water or enough to eat. There are people who have lost their very identity because of exploitation of resources and greed. So, we need to connect with creation.
We must discern that our connection with created things fosters a stronger and deeper connection to our fellow humanity.
For when we observe the beauty in all things, we train ourselves to see the beauty in others. And where there is beauty, there is appreciation, gratefulness, and compassionate care. God speaks to us through creation. Nature is our teacher. Let’s make sure and treat her with the respect and care she deserves.
Most High, all powerful, good Lord,
Yours are the praises, the glory, the honor,
and all blessing.
To You alone, Most High, does all creation belong.
Be praised, my Lord, through all your creatures,
especially through Brother Sun,
bringing us the day and giving us light.
He is beautiful and radiant in all his splendor!
Most High, he bears your likeness.
Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Moon
and the stars, in heaven you formed them
clear and precious and beautiful.
Praised be You, my Lord, through Brother Wind,
and through the air, cloudy and serene,
and every kind of weather through which
You give sustenance to Your creatures.
Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Water.
She is very useful, humble, precious, and pure.
Praised be You, my Lord, through Brother Fire,
through whom you light the night. He is beautiful
and playful and robust and strong.
Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Mother Earth.
She sustains us and governs us; she produces
varied fruits with colored flowers and herbs.
Blessed are those who endure in peace
for by You, Most High, they shall be crowned.
Praised be You, my Lord,
through our Sister Bodily Death,
from whom no living person can escape.
Woe to those who die in sin.
Blessed are those whom death will
find in Your most holy will,
for the second death shall do them no harm.
Let all creation praise and bless my Lord,
and give Him thanks
and serve Him with great humility. Amen.
–A Prayer from St. Francis of Assisi