Dec 1 2010

Seeing Creation and Prayer

waves 033One of the devotional books I use most mornings is called Celtic Daily Prayer.  The past couple of days the daily readings have contained beautiful prayers I’d like to share with you.  The author of the first prayer is unknown. 

“If my lips could sing as many songs as there are waves in the sea: if my tongue could sing as many hymns as there are ocean billows: if my mouth filled the firmament with praise: if my face shone like the sun and moon together: if my hands were to hover in the sky like powerful eagles and my feet ran across mountains as swiftly as the deer: all that would not be enough to pay You fitting tribute, O Lord my God.”

Zion NP Watchman 248The second prayer comes from the Talmud and reads: “Blessed are You, O Lord our God, King of the universe!  At Your word night falls.  In Your wisdom You open heaven’s gates, You control the elements and rotate the seasons.  You set the stars in the vault of heaven.  You created night and day.  You cause the light to fade when darkness comes and the darkness to melt away in the light of a new day.  O ever-living and eternal God, You will always watch over us, Your creatures.  Blessed are You, O Lord, at whose word night falls.”

Both of these prayers are good examples of how paying attention to Creation can enhance our prayer life and lead us to worship and praise.  There is certainly biblical precedent for this.  Those who composed the Psalms often did the same thing.  In Psalm 103, for example, David declares “For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions.” 

I encourage you to let nature be one of your guides in prayer.  There you will find an inexhaustible resource to connect you to the Creator and Lord of life.  I truly believe that seeing Creation and prayer should go hand in hand.


(I took the top image of the Pacific Ocean earlier this year on a visit to see Rob in California.  The bottom photograph of “The Watchman” was taken at Zion National Park last December.)

Dec 16 2009

More Beauty Than I Can Bear

Zion NP Watchman 248A number of years ago my friend, Stan Burman, introduced me to the story of Everett Reuss.  Reuss was a writer, artist, naturalist and poet who traveled the southwest, usually alone.  He kept a journal of his travels and at one point wrote “I have seen almost more beauty than I can bear.”  The last couple of days I have had a chance to look at my images taken last week in the same area Reuss once traveled, southern Utah.  In doing so I feel like saying with him, “I have seen almost more beauty than I can bear.”

There are instances in the Scriptures where we are told that no one can look upon God’s face and live.  In that face, no doubt, is a beauty that none can bear here on earth.  Moses, you may recall, was permitted to see the back side of God and even that fleeting look transformed Moses’ face to the point that the glow there could not be hidden from the Hebrews. 

Because I firmly hold that there is a connection between the Creator and His Creation, I think God in His mercy allows us to catch a glimpse of His glory and beauty through nature.  Certainly God and nature are not to be viewed as one and the same—that is the error of pantheism—but like Moses we are granted the chance to view a portion of God in what He has made.  For those with eyes to see the beauty of the Lord is to be found in the handiwork of His Creation.  That beauty is so great that it is almost too much to bear at times.

In just a few days we will celebrate the birth of our Creator and Redeemer.  Perhaps one way we could honor this noble occasion is simply to take the time to notice the beauty that surrounds us and to do what we can to preserve it.  In doing so we may find ourselves saying with John the Baptist, “From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another.” (John 1:16)  We may also find ourselves saying with Everett Reuss, “I have seen almost more beauty than I can bear.”Zion NP 106


(Both pictures here were taken in Zion National Park last week.)