Have you ever had one of those experiences where you suddenly became aware of the thought that God is offering you an unexpected, even undeserved moment of great blessing? And did it not move you to wordless awe and gratitude? I had one of those experiences this morning and the peace and joy of it is still with me as I write.
Early this morning, I went out to take a letter to the Post Office in my little seaside village along Puget Sound in Washington State. After dropping off the letter, I drove another block down to the street that runs along a small bluff above the Sound. I parked the car and opened my driver’s side window. The air was moist, cool, and the sky was gray with low clouds that draped the flanks of Whidbey Island out in the Sound. The sea was flat, still, and the atmosphere was serene.
I had my prayer book with me and opened it to today’s morning prayer readings for October 4th, the feast of St. Francis of Assisi. The early morning light, the still air, and the silence of Puget Sound this morning entered me as I began reading the day’s first reading. It was from the Book of the prophet Daniel and it reminded me of Francis’ Canticle of the Sun, which begins: “Most high, all-powerful, all good, Lord/ All praise is yours, all glory, all honor/ And all blessing./ To you, alone, Most High, do they belong./ No mortal lips are worthy/ To pronounce your name.” Francis goes on in this song of praise to the Lord of all creation, speaking of the stars and moon, wind and air, and so on. It is a beautiful prayer of praise, a distant echo to the prayer of praise that the prophet Daniel lifts up to the Lord in his third chapter.
Daniel writes: “Bless the Lord, all you works of the Lord./ Praise and exalt him above all forever./ Angels of the Lord: bless the Lord./ You heavens: bless the Lord./ Sun and moon: bless the Lord./ Stars of heaven: bless the Lord./ Every shower and dew: bless the Lord./ All you winds: bless the Lord./…Mountains and hills: bless the Lord,/ Everything growing from the earth: bless the Lord./ Seas and rivers: bless the Lord./ You dolphins and all water creatures: bless the Lord./ All you birds of the air: bless the Lord./…You sons of men: bless the Lord./ Holy men of humble heart: bless the Lord.”
Those words began to take on a living quality for me as I read them. The mystery and wonder of creation in those moments this morning was no longer just an abstract idea. It was all immediately and intimately present to me. But more than that, I was suddenly and stunningly aware of the thought that I was not alone. In those brief moments I knew that I was in the very real presence of the One who made all of this…and me. My mind filled with the word, Grace! Like the prophet Daniel, or like Francis of Asissi, I fell into my own interior canticle of praise to the One who is All and in All. When we have these graced and blessed moments, the only reasonable and proper response is humble thanksgiving. And so I say, “Thanks be to the God of All!” Amen.