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Praise to the Creating God

Praise to the Creating God

Yesterday morning, I rose early, and took my prayer book and Bible out into the fields, meadows, and woods that surround the cabin where I am staying for a mini-retreat, as a busy month draws to a close. This summer has brought even more changes and challenges than usual: one beloved dog suddenly died, another has been found to have lymphoma. Our youngest child is getting ready to head off to college, and his embrace of this new phase of life is both sweet and bitter, and I have been called to my first parish after spending the summer serving as a supply priest all over the central part of the diocese. So this respite was most welcome, indeed.


The gentle ridges and slopes that are home to the retreat center were farmland just a few years ago, but there are stands of trees and swaths of wildflowers and grasses ribboning through the property calling for exploration, and benches conveniently situated for meditation and observation. It’s been dry here in mid-Missouri, and the grass crunched underfoot, startling grasshoppers to explode from the path just ahead of my boot, their wings brilliant yellow bowties until they caromed into a new patch of thatch, no doubt glaring balefully at me.


Every few steps, I would pause. Sight, sound, touch and smell were all enticed as I walked. Cascading showers of golden birch leaves, prematurely aged by the drought, arrowed down from above and stippled the path like raindrops and landed on my shoulders. The sweet smell of the pastureland across the fence, recently hayed, reminded me of the blessing of each breath. The nodding grasses, hip-high, parted by the breeze to reveal, mixed among the tickseed and spent, desiccated coneflowers, the hilariously named “bastard toadflax” plants that interrupted here and there with their green foliage and wee white flowers. Droning flies and rasping beetles and buzzing bees and dozens of kinds of birdsong were carried on the welcome breeze. In the woods, the trees held the shade with a mother’s care and murmured and rubbed together companionably in the wind.


As I rounded a bend in the path, a meadow opened before me, and three deer exploded from the verge of Indian grass and sedge that fringed the field mere feet away from me.  Deciding it was a sign as good as any to pause, I sank down onto a bench and began morning prayer. Afterward, I let my Bible fall open, and this is what my eye fell upon, from Job 12:7-10:


“…ask the animals, and they will teach you;
   the birds of the air, and they will tell you; 
ask the plants of the earth, and they will teach you;
   and the fish of the sea will declare to you. 
Who among all these does not know
   that the hand of the Lord has done this? 
In his hand is the life of every living thing
   and the breath of every human being.”


Even in this former farm, the variety of native species have resurged in this little corner of Earth, helped by the Sisters who care for this place with a mixture of tenderness and practicality. All the living things here proclaim the wonders of God’s continuing, present-tense handiwork, the ongoing creation that reminds me that the very ground so easy to take for granted beneath our feet is a living thing beloved of God, sustaining us all, and drawing this prayer of praise to the Creating God:


Most Merciful God,
who is creating the heavens and earth,
I sing a song of praise and gratitude
for all the wonders of your hand.

For the electric flash of a bluebird
racing from redbud to hackberry,
the swoop of the martin over a pond at dusk,
and the mockingbird standing sentinel on the rooftop,
Creating God, I give You praise.

For the rasp of cicada,
the swooping trill of the wood thrush,
and the hammering percussion of the woodpecker,
Creating God, I give You praise.

For the tumble of black swallowtails on summer phlox,
the sparkle of dragonfly wings,
and the industry of the bee on Queen Anne’s lace,
Creating God, I give You praise.

For the spiced scent of fallen leaves
subsiding into earth,
and the greening tang of hedge-apple,
Creating God, I give You praise.

For the sinuous branches of this bur oak,
and the curling bark of the river birch,
Creating God, I give You praise.

Holy One, Ground and Source of All Being,
You adorn the Earth with beauty
and sustain us by your abundant grace and tender love.
Bear us within your embrace this day,
that we remember our kinship within creation,
and dependence upon this good Earth,
that even now is bearing us through space.

Plant your peace and compassion within our hearts,
O Lord of Life,
and make your face to shine upon all for whom we pray.


Photo: Windridge Sky, by Leslie Scoopmire

The Rev. Leslie Scoopmire is a retired teacher, current tree-hugger, mother forever, and a priest in the Diocese of Missouri. On August 1, she will begin serving as priest-in-charge of St. Martin’s Episcopal Church in Ellisville, MO.  She posts daily prayers at her blog Abiding In Hope, and collects spiritual writings and images at Poems, Psalms, and Prayers.


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