Text: Psalm 19
Isn’t poetry amazing! The way it can take you places … the way you can go to the farthest reaches in a matter of a few lines; the way it boldly ventures the wildest notions … has you going right along with it. And then, the way with one stroke, in just a few bare words, it can take it all back! This Psalm that we’ve just read does all of that and more!
In a few short verses we’ve swept through the heavens and the earth! With the sun we’ve journeyed from it’s rising … it never really sets, because it’s the sun we’re riding with not the earth! We see it pouring out its light and heat everywhere -- nowhere is untouched by it.
In a few short verses we hear the whole creation announcing. The heavens, the earth, both day and night are speaking, declaring. God’s entire creation is not mute but wildly expressive! And then, just when everything everywhere is doing its part to proclaim the wonder and glory of God, we hear “there is no speech, nor are there words, their voice is not heard” … but then in the very next line: “yet their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the earth.” Wait a minute!! What’s going on?
We might for a moment think this is the poet having some fun, taking the liberty to do and undo … to venture something, and then withdraw it. That’s what poets get to do. But maybe in this case it’s not that at all. Maybe it’s the poet’s way of reminding us or awakening us to the way the creation does speak to us …the way it has much to communicate to us no matter where we are on the face of the earth.
The poet knows very well that the creation does not talk … yet if we listen, the creation does have a thing or two to say, to show us, to teach us … for the good of our lives, for the good of all life together, in the same way the law, the Torah is God’s gift to the whole creation the way it teaches us, offers us wisdom -- the wisdom we need if our life -- all life-- is to be protected, honoured, enabled to thrive.
I think it’s the Celts who affirmed that before we ever had the scriptures as a means of revelation, the first “book,” the first source through which we are given to know something about God or hear something from God, is the creation.
So I wonder, how have you heard or felt, experienced something of the wisdom of God expressed through the creation? Perhaps sitting by the ocean … in walking through the forest … gazing at the sunset, the sunrise … or watching an ant carrying something 10 times its weight ... or watching a bird soaring effortlessly through the wide expansive sky. Sometimes it happens through catching the scent of something, or the sound, or a taste.
This is the wonder … when we have eyes to see and ears to hear, when our hearts are open … God can speak to us through everything!
This communication, this experience of revelation isn’t something we can force … it’s all gift! But we can at least open ourselves up to the possibility of perceiving what we are being given to know, by the way we enter the day, by the way walk through the world, by the way we take the time to notice, to listen … by the way we bring the question we’re pondering or the need that’s troubling us, the way we offer that to God as we begin a walk or a time of sitting, and then be open to hearing a word (a word-less word!) through the sights or sounds or smells on our path.
We are in an amazing season that’s ripe for significant revelation. The trees ablaze with glory, all this fruit, all this colour, all this growth … and then, they let it go! What might this be saying to you if you really listened -- if you didn‘t put onto it what you assume it means but let it speak to you where you are? Where does it take you?
We’re coming near the end of harvest time--time to gather in and take stock of all the growth … what has it amounted to? … what have we gained? how is it nourishing us? how will we share it? what has it cost?
What is it that this time, this season is holding out to you?
What has ripened in your life that invites your harvesting, your gathering up and gathering in, your savouring? And what is for shedding, for letting go, that it might be broken down, composted, and transformed in ways that become life-giving?
Is this not a season that’s ripe for revelation? As it turns out, every season, every aspect of God’s creation, endowed as it is-- as we are-- with the wonder and mystery of God … every moment, every place carries at least a seed of a word from God for life’s sake.
What is that the Holy is inviting you to hear these days, in and through this very season? What will you do to give yourself the chance to listen?
“Earth is crammed with heaven,” says Elizabeth Barrett Browning, another poet …
“And every bush afire with God.
But only they who see take off their shoes.
The rest sit round plucking blackberries.”
Take your pick -- so to speak! There is a world of life-giving wisdom awaiting our receptivity.
Blessed be God, now and forever.