Living In Eden

Are we not, too often, distracted so completely that we miss the subtle workings of God in our lives and in the natural world?

The first part of Psalm 19 is a glorious praise of God’s creation, the beauty of it and the wisdom of its arrangement. It recognizes the wisdom of God in all of the wonders of the natural environment. They reveal the mind of God to us day and night.

As I write I am looking out my window on a beautiful sun-drenched day. The great pine trees on the hill are majestic against the clear blue sky. The deciduous trees are full of new leaves in every hue of green you can imagine. There is a bald eagle perched on the peak of the tallest Douglas Fir tree and its white head offers another bold contrast against the blue sky. Birds are singing. There is a pair of robins on our patio watching over a speckle-chested young one that is just starting to learn the rudiments of flight. Summer flowers of every pastel and primary color make the view out my window look like a brilliant, impressionist painting. I can also hear children’s voices at play in the neighborhood. It is one of those days where you feel keenly the presence of God in the world around you. Like the psalmist, you feel like shouting because you are wide awake and speechless with joy.

“The heavens declare the glory of God;

the skies proclaim the work of his hands.

Day after day they pour forth speech;

night after night they reveal knowledge.

They have no speech, they use no words;

no sound is heard from them.

Yet their voice goes out into all the earth,

their words to the ends of the world.” (verses 1-4)

When you are awake, that is, fully attentive to what is around you, you begin to “see” what was always there, but that you were too preoccupied to notice. Is that not our failing most of the time? We are not always fully awake, fully attentive to our surroundings. Are we not, too often, distracted so completely that we miss the subtle workings of God in our lives and in the natural world? We believe that God is always present to his creation, and especially to his children. If God were to take his mind off of any part of his creation for a single, infinitesimal moment, it would no longer exist. It is God’s presence that sustains us, not just in our physical being, but that also surrounds us with the unspeakable beauty of nature. Living in a large city, surrounded by concrete, glass and noise, is not often conducive to experiencing the wonders of nature, but it is there too. You might have to look harder, but God will reveal himself to you in ways that you least expect.

So much of modern life militates against seeing or experiencing the beauty around us. With the advent of technologies like the smartphone, we are often so withdrawn, or so distracted from the reality that surrounds us that we are quite literally asleep to the wonders of both the natural world and the people around us. Sure, we have our responsibilities and we have to focus on the work before us. That is good. But we need to learn to take time out from that too. We need to turn off all of our “devices” and go for a walk. It is a powerful form of prayer. When we give ourselves over completely to the moment, when we allow ourselves to be fully present to the now, we can begin to see and to hear God’s presence in all things. He is always there. He is always waiting. He is always ready to fill our hearts, our minds, and our souls with the gifts of joy, comfort, and peace. We need this to remain healthy in mind, body and soul. If we make a practice of this we will find that our spirits are lifted and we will feel the empowerment of grace that comes from being wide awake in the presence of the God of Creation.

Lord, help us to see the wisdom of taking ourselves apart from our daily routines and distractions regularly. Help us to see the beauty you have surrounded us with in nature and in the people that are in our lives. Open our eyes, our ears and our hearts to the wonders you have made. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen!

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