Monday, August 22, 2011

The Heavens Declare

Ever since the Hubble Space Telescope was put into place in the Earth's orbit in 1990, humans have drawn closer into the splendor and marvel of the universe. Click here for Hubble Space Telescope photo gallery. Most of us can only name a few constellations and take very little time each day to pay attention to the wonders above our head in the sky, whether a sunrise, a cloud formation, a masterpiece artwork painting at sunset, or swimming in the Milky Way of stars. The ancient Psalmist told us 3000 years ago truths we all know within our inner spirit when we look with our bare eyes into the star strewn night sky:
The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they reveal knowledge.
They have no speech, they use no words;
no sound is heard from them. 
Yet their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world. 
~Psalm 19:1-4 (NIV)
This week, go out at night with a blanket. Lie down in a field or grassy area and simply stare into the night sky. If you have a pair of binoculars or a small telescope, look through the glass and let your mind spin with the vast glory of the heavens above. Even in places where city lights block most of the heavenly glory, a few stars still insist on shining their light, traveling across the vast reaches of space, into our eyes to fill our minds and hearts with the wonder and delight of God's wordless glory being proclaimed by the work of his hands. 

Photo Credit: "Gas Pillars in the Eagle Nebula (M16): Pillars of Creation in a Star-Forming Region", from Hubble Site

Monday, August 15, 2011

Watching and Waiting

On Monday mornings, I typically begin the day with a time of prayer in the Glenstal Book of Prayer. This morning, this time was spent outside, on our deck overlooking the forest. I had a cup of freshly brewed coffee in hand. Here is a selection from this morning prayer service. 

in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Morning Invocation of the Light:
Glory be to God who has shown us the light! 
Lead me from darkness to light,
Lead me from sadness to joy,
Lead me from death to immortality.
Glory be to God who has shown us the light!

Psalm 5:1-3
To my words give ear, O Lord,
give heed to my groaning.
Attend to the sound of my cries,
my King and my God.
It is you whom I invoke, O Lord,
in the morning you hear me;
in the morning I offer you my prayer,
watching and waiting. 

While praying this prayer, I enjoyed watching the Chickadees fly among the Elderberries, over to our bird feeder, collecting their morning meal. Their merry and modest presence in our yard was a delight to my soul. Over a morning cup of coffee, with God's Word open in our laps, soaking in God's creation, there is deep soul renewal that comes from watching and waiting. 

These two spiritual habits, active-spiritual watching and waiting do not come naturally to us or easily in a hurried, distracted culture. We are quick to distraction, getting up to answer the next text, respond to the next cell phone ringtone, or change the channel to seek the next best television show. Sitting still even for a few minutes in the morning, attentively "watching and waiting" is a holy and soul refreshing gift you can give to yourself. What are we watching? We watch with the eyes of the heart, looking to Jesus, "the author and perfecter of our faith". For whom are we waiting? We wait in hope for the Lord, as Psalm 27 reminds us:

I am confident of this: 
I will see the goodness of the Lord
In the land of the living.
Wait for the LORD;
be strong and take heart
and wait for the LORD.