BY AMY WALTON |
One of my favorite songs of praise is “All Things Bright and Beautiful,” a hymn written by Mrs. Cecil Frances Alexander (who also penned “Once in Royal David’s City”).
I learned its lyrics as a young girl growing up in Mayodan Moravian Church. Its verses provide a vivid snapshot of God’s greatness: Flowers that open, purple-headed mountains, ripe fruits in the garden. Its chorus reminds us that God creates everything.
Singing that hymn and immersing myself in nature at Laurel Ridge, I grew to have a love and respect for God’s creation. It’s a reverence that has continued to grow throughout my life, blossoming like nature itself.
I frequently stop and think about some of the breathtaking moments I’ve had beholding our Father’s handiwork: The first time I laid eyes on Niagara Falls, a marvel whose mighty roar I heard long before seeing the source of the sound. A series of shadowed peaks perfectly aligned below me as I looked out from the Appalachian Trail. My initial glimpse of the Austrian Alps from the top of a castle in Salzburg. The jagged mountains of Oahu from where I gazed down at the calm and azure Pacific Ocean.
Those were all jaw-dropping sights; but truthfully, I don’t need to travel to some far-off place to witness God’s magnificent creation when it’s right in my backyard… literally.
Praising God and enjoying His works are practices in which I engage on a daily basis. Lauding Him throughout the day for all our extraordinary, ordinary moments should be a continuing, strong thread in the fabric of our lives, and making time to sit and ponder the creation at our very doorsteps is a really special thing.
I enjoy walking out on my deck or screened porch just after the sun has risen. I stretch my arms up high in a sort of praise position, breathing deeply and being ever grateful for the gifts of breath and movement. I recently started adding a splash of coconut milk to my usually preferred black coffee, and after my energy-inducing stretch, I sit in my rocking chair sipping my brew and spending moments absorbing God’s DNA all around me.
This summer, I’ve been mindful of the many trees that live in my yard, providing my home with much needed shade. I’ve relished the few flowers I’ve planted, amazed at their brilliant, yet very diverse colors and forms. I’ve enjoyed seeing swans and fish in my canal, along with the occasional egret. All these constructions of our Heavenly Father give me hope in a world that has a lot of pain. My daily awareness of the Divine Architect’s work helps me maintain a heavenly perspective on this life.
The other seasons provide me with my daily dose of grandeur, too: The changing leaves in autumn, a transformation of which I never tire. The occasional coastal snowfall that blankets my yard and the smell of burning wood in my fireplace in winter. The fresh grass and blooming flowers of spring.
As I scan my backyard, I think about the wildlife that occasionally scampers through it. I lovingly remember my family’s treasured pets that romped around it. I recall an evening over twenty years ago when my then seven-year-old son and I stood out in the yard on a blustery March evening as we laid his pet mouse to rest. I offered a brief service of thanksgiving, after which we fashioned a cross from twigs to serve as a grave marker. This “funeral” honored Rhett’s little friend and instilled in my son a respect for God’s creatures.
We don’t need a front yard or backyard to drink in nature and to give thanks for what God has made. We can do it from an apartment balcony or even the window of a hotel. Trees, potted plants, pebbles, insects, rain… creation is all around, but we much too frequently don’t notice it as we think about our next task or just simply go about our business.
As Moravians who believe creation is one of the essential works of God, we should praise Him each morning upon awakening and take time each day-make that several times a day- to soak in and savor the works of His mighty breath. Doing so can help us become better stewards of our environment.
Here’s a challenge for you: Resolve to spend 10 minutes each morning or early evening on your porch, deck, or by an open window. Have a small notebook and a pen at hand and keep distractions-such as your phone- away. Just observe and listen. You may notice a flower you didn’t previously see or hear a gentle breeze or watch an ant carrying a food particle. Yes, watch and listen and write down what you noticed about God’s handiwork in your yard. Write a short prayer of thanksgiving, then set aside time the next day and the next to immerse yourself in creation that’s happening each day in your yard. You may just develop a rhythm of praise and thanksgiving, day after day and week after week.
Mrs. Alexander based her hymn on a line in the Apostles Creed, “Maker of Heaven and Earth.” Yes, we believe that God creates, that He is, indeed, the Maker of Heaven and Earth. As we sit and marvel at His creation, whether in a national park or right outside our door, may we remember this chorus:
All things bright and beautiful,
All creatures great and small,
All things wise and wonderful,
The Lord God made them all.
Thanks be to God for His continuing creation!
About the author
Amy Walton is a certified life coach, certified Christian life coach, speaker, and writer who has lived in coastal Virginia for nearly 30 years. A native of Mayodan, North Carolina, she was baptized, confirmed, and raised in Mayodan Moravian Church, where she remains an Associate Member. Connect with her at www.amy-walton.com or [email protected].