CATEGORY: EDT Editorials
Editorial, Sunday, Oct. 19, 1997
Mississippi experiences only a few weeks during every year like the one just past. Most of those days come during October, the month praised for its crisp, golden beauty and peacefulness by the poet Robert Frost.
The weeks of autumn in Mississippi, even as we wish for more of them, offer the kind of soul-refreshing changes that come only from the well-spring of Creation. Nature, and the Creator God whose hand is everywhere apparent in both its splendors and subtle beauties, offers unique therapy and renewal for pilgrims on all the ways of life.
The scriptures of the Hebrew Bible provide ancient, inspired sources for those seeking words to express their emotions and gratitude for creation's ministry. The Book of Psalms overflows with allusions to natural grace and beauty and of God's presence in Creation from beginning to end.
The biblical writers' proximity spiritually and physically to the earth's goodness, the awesome power of wind and rain and fire, and the reassuring cycle of changing seasons provides rich inspiration for other people of faith to offer and record their own words of praise.
Indeed, those men and women identified as saints holy people singled out in the processes of history as worthy of special praise for their godly acts often focused their prayer and praise toward their experience with God in the natural order.
The saints of ancient Ireland and what is now Scotland provide a vivid legacy of prayers drawing on their unity with God in the created world. A poem attributed to St. Manchan expresses simply, powerfully what many people today a thousand years after him also experience within themselves:
I wish, O Son of the Living God,
eternal, ancient King,
for a secret hut in the wilderness
that it may be my dwelling.
A very blue, shallow well
to be beside it,
a clear pool for washing away my sins
through the grace of the Holy Ghost.
A beautiful wood close by
around it on every side
for the nurture of many-voiced birds
to shelter and hide it.
Facing the South for warmth
a little stream across its ground,
a choice plot with abundant bounties
which would be good for every plant ...
This is the housekeeping I would get,
I would choose it without concealing, fragrant, fresh leeks, hens,
salmon, trout, bees.
My fill of clothing and food
from the King of good fame,
and for me to be sitting for a time
praying to God in every place.
St. Columba of Ireland, a fifth century evangelist, wrote a soaring hymn of praise, Altus Prosator, celebrating creation and its order of goodness and harmony:
The Most High, planning the frame and harmony
of the world,
had made heaven and earth, had fashioned the sea and the waters,
and also shoots of grass, the little trees of the woods,
the sun, the moon and the stars, fire
and necessary things,
birds, fish, cattle, beasts and living creatures,
and finally the first-formed man, to rule with
At once when the stars were made, lights of the
the angels praised for His wonderful creating
the Lord of this immense mass, the Crafstman of the
The words of praise from the saints come from their relationship with the created world, which comes from their relationship with the Creator.
Our relationship with the Creator also shapes our perspective of the world around us and, as it did for men and women of the biblical era and other ancient times, makes Nature's refreshment within us possible and holy.