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Monday, August 4, 2014

Many and great, O God, are thy works,
Maker of earth and sky.
Thy hands have set the heavens with stars;
thy fingers spread the mountains and plains.
Lo, at thy word the waters were formed.
Deep seas obey thy voice.

     Joseph R. Renville's "Many and Great, O God, Are Thy Works"
     from Glory to God: The Presbyterian Hymnal

My trip to Florida was all planned—and then life got in the way. My heart sank. I had needed this trip to renew my spirit.

So there I sat, with five days of vacation to fill and a devotion to write. I read the words to Joseph R. Renville’s hymn “Many and Great, O God Are Thy Works” and felt, at first, daunted. The words described the great beauty of the earth, ocean, and sky, the glory of mountains and plains, while here I was stuck in Chicago. I said a prayer for inspiration and started typing.

After a few minutes my cat, Phoebe, crawled up under my laptop and nudged my hand as if to say, “Remember me?” I started to shoo her off, then stopped. I thought about how much I’d been working and wondered how long it had been since I held her on my lap. I stroked her soft fur, while she purred and I felt grateful for the moment of connection I felt with her. Then my brother called and told me to do something nice for myself, and I immediately thought of a beautiful patch of woods and trails near Hinsdale that I loved to run. I thought of the deer I saw there, the lush green of the woods, the sound of running streams that drowned out the city’s noises, and something occurred to me. God’s handiwork was everywhere. I needed to open my eyes to the beauty that was right in front of me.

In the sweet eyes of my cat curled up with me, in my brother’s kind voice over the phone, in my mother’s steadfast love, my friends’ endless support, and in Chicago’s uniquely beautiful summer scenery with its forest preserves, giant lake, even its ever-changing weather. It was all God’s great work, given to me to enjoy, if only I’d open my heart.

God, help me to notice your great works that surround me in my day-to-day life. Remind me to live gratefully for all the gifts you’ve given me. Amen.

Written by Patty Donmoyer, Receptionist

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