This morning I headed out for my usual walk, feeling the mist on my face and breathing the ocean air. I opened my eyes and my heart. I looked up into a wonderfully sculptural dead tree on my way, where a red-shouldered hawk sometimes perches, and as I looked, he arrived. I smiled. He took off again. I heard a ruckus further down the road. As I walked along, I saw three young bucks playing, chasing each other across the street, over fences and through the scrubby dunes, bounding and leaping. They got close and stopped, looking at me; I stopped to let them pass. I crossed Sunset and headed down the coast. In the dunes there were three baby bunnies scurrying for cover in the lupine. I took their picture and as I looked up, two swallows were flying right overhead. Looking out at the ocean, I saw otters bobbing in the waves and low-flying pelicans. Crowned sparrows provided the soundtrack for the morning. Gratitude filled my heart for the unexpected magic of a gray June day.
“For the beauty of the earth” played in my head. “Lord of all, to thee we raise this our hymn of grateful praise.” God’s abundance is available to us every day. Creation testifies to God’s infinite imagination. Creatures do not need us to notice them. The sea and sky do not benefit from our gaze. We are blessed when we pay attention, when we let the earth and her creatures preach to us of God’s love and care. We are blessed when we remember we are not essential to the earth; the earth is essential to us.
During his ministry, Jesus often retreated to a mountaintop or the lakeshore. I like to imagine he paid special attention to the critters, to the grasses bending in the breeze, to the way the sun reflected on the water, to the feel of solid rock beneath his feet. It is restorative to be reminded that we are creatures, part of the delightfully intricate web of creation, and that we and all things owe our existence to our loving Creator. Take time this summer to just be – and be at peace.