Recently I had a chance to go to California and spend a week photographing with Rob Sheppard. It turned out to be a marvelous trip. Everywhere we went there seemed to be something special waiting for us to explore and photograph. Numerous times I found myself saying “Wow!” Even more often I would catch myself saying “Thank you!” to God for the blessing of getting to see what I saw. There were several adorable sea otters that we were able to spend time with around Morro Bay. We also had many opportunities to enjoy this year’s super display of wildflowers. At Carrizo Plains National Monument we saw wildflowers flowing across thousands of acres and even into the mountains. It was a marvelous sight to behold. We spent a good bit of time along the central coast of California and the beauty there likewise called for countless expressions of gratitude. I felt incredibly blessed to see all I did.
A few days ago I was looking at a book I own which happens to be a collection of “famous prayers.” I came across one prayer that helped remind me that for those with eyes to see there are always blessings in nature waiting to be seen. The prayer spoke to me and perhaps it will to you as well. It was penned by John Oxenham and is taken from “A Little Te Deum of the Commonplace.”
“For all the first sweet flushings of the spring; The greening earth, the tender heavenly blue; The rich brown furrows gaping for the seed; For all thy grace in bursting bud and leaf… For hedgerows sweet with hawthorn and wild rose; For meadows spread with gold and gemmed with stars, For every tint of every tiniest flower, For every daisy smiling to the sun; For every bird that builds in joyous hope, For every lamb that frisks beside its dam, For every leaf that rustles in the wind, For spring poplar, and for spreading oak, For queenly birch, and lofty swaying elm; For the great cedar’s benedictory grace, For earth’s ten thousand fragrant incenses, Sweet altar-gifts from leaf and fruit and flower… For ripening summer and the harvesting; For all the rich autumnal glories spread—The flaming pageant of the ripening woods, The fiery gorse, the heather-purpled hills, The rustling leaves that fly before the wind and lie below the hedgerows whispering; For meadows silver-white with hoary dew; For sheer delight of tasting once again that first crisp breath, of winter in the air; The pictured pane; the new white world without; The sparkling hedgerows witchery of lace, The soft white flakes that fold the sleeping earth; The cold without, the cheerier warm within… For all the glowing heart of Christmas-tide, We thank thee, Lord!”
Oxenham is right, there is always something in God’s Creation to catch our attention and elicit our praise and thanksgiving. Needless to say, some things catch our eyes or attention quicker than others but if we will really pay attention we will find plenty to give thanks for no matter where we are or what time of the year it happens to be. What are you seeing right now that leads you to offer a prayer of thanksgiving?
(I took the three pictures shown above on my recent trip to California.)