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Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Today’s Reading | Psalm 104:24–35

O Lord, how manifold are your works!
     In wisdom you have made them all;
     the earth is full of your creatures.
Yonder is the sea, great and wide,
     creeping things innumerable are there,
     living things both small and great.
There go the ships,
     and Leviathan that you formed to sport in it.

These all look to you
     to give them their food in due season;
when you give to them, they gather it up;
     when you open your hand, they are filled with good things.
When you hide your face, they are dismayed;
     when you take away their breath, they die
     and return to their dust.
When you send forth your spirit, they are created;
     and you renew the face of the ground.

May the glory of the Lord endure forever;
     may the Lord rejoice in his works—
who looks on the earth and it trembles,
     who touches the mountains and they smoke.
I will sing to the Lord as long as I live;
     I will sing praise to my God while I have being.
May my meditation be pleasing to him,
     for I rejoice in the Lord.
Let sinners be consumed from the earth,
     and let the wicked be no more.
Bless the Lord, O my soul.
Praise the Lord! (NRSV)


My grandfather helped me experience a reverence for life and living things—not so much by all he said, though his words were always wise, but in who he was and in what I experienced with him in many walks outside together. Along those walks, he helped me see the world as a magnificent system. Perhaps it is why I feel most connected to the earth and to God and all of creation when I am out in nature.

I’d seek out a feather for his description of its origin. He called my attention to the smell of the tilled soil as we planted together. He introduced me to the unparalleled flavor of lettuce from the garden or sun-ripened tomatoes just off the vine. He helped me learn to swim and to surf waves.

In Granddad’s Prayers of the Earth, Douglas Wood writes, “All beings of the world pray, said my Granddad, as they slip through the forest or sparkle in the water . . . as they climb the mountainsides or soar into the clouds or burrow into the earth. . . . Each living thing gives its life to the beauty of all life, and that is a gift of its prayers.”

Sometimes I need to be in nature to draw a spiritual contrast to my busy life in Chicago. I take my dog and head out to the park, appreciating the season and the life around me. I experience again the joy of being Dicky’s granddaughter. I hear his voice (and perhaps God’s) whispering to me with loving reverence for life and living things. I find again my grounding, my right place as part of God’s magnificent system.


All things bright and beautiful, all creatures great and small, all things wise and wonderful: the Lord God made them all. Amen.
(Prayer from Cecil Frances Alexander’s hymn text “All Things Bright and Beautiful”)

Reflection written by Laura Sterkel, member of Fourth Presbyterian Church

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