Sometimes, it is the little things that just fill me with joy – the smell of fresh bread, the feeling of a warm, wild wind on my face or the pleasure of kicking through great heaps of crispy bronze autumn leaves. They remind me that each day I get to wake up and live is a gift, not earned or bought, or deserved in any way, but a free gift.
The crows tumbling around the sky in quarrelsome groups, the red berries ripening on the shrubs in my garden, and the exquisitely beautiful thing which is an acorn perched neatly on the twig of an oak tree, all speak of an intricacy of design and boundless creativity which fill me with delight. I am formed in such a way that I can perceive and respond to beauty, I have senses which thrill to different stimuli and a brain which can hold certain times and experiences in memory like jewels for me to revisit again and again. My eyes are a miracle of creation, and through them, I receive not simply information but pleasure, as I look at the world in which I live and the people who share it with me.
I believe that the God who created this world, the galaxy and universe within which it is so miraculously positioned, is glad when I respond in joy to his handiwork. I believe that human beings are made to reflect his character, so that our pleasure in beauty is also his pleasure, and I know that in expressing thanks to the maker, my own joy is somehow enhanced.
For the beauty of the earth,for the beauty of the skies,
for the love which from our birth over and around us lies,
Christ, our God, to thee we raise this our sacrifice of praise.
This is a verse from a hymn which celebrates this sense that our appreciation of the good things we receive every moment of every day is only completed by giving thanks. It may seem an odd phrase – why should saying thank you be a sacrifice? But it is also really an offering – a presentation to God of something precious to us – and in that sense, our thanksgiving is a proper response to the giver of all good gifts. I often find myself singing it, adding my own voice to the song which is continually going up from all creation, in praise of the Father and maker of all. A modern setting of the words to music by the composer John Rutter, can be viewed online – have a look for ‘For the beauty of the earth’ on Youtube, and enjoy the way that someone has brought images alongside the words to enrich them even further!
May we find time in the week ahead to really see the beauty all around us, to smell, taste, hear and feel the incredible richness which make up our daily experience of life on earth, so that we can sing with the psalmist in Ps 150v6..
Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord!