Praise Creates the World

I hear it this morning: the praise of rain. If you are a Texas friend of mine, you hear it this morning: the lament of moisture-empty air. I myself put down a book to reach for my daughter when she came in the room a few moments ago, so I could show her my delight... that she is here, a gift to me and to the world.

We are made for praise. And it springs from our response to God's creations.

Chapter 2 of Ravished by Beauty explores the intertwined role of humankind, earth, and its creatures in responding to God—either in praise of his providence through Nature, or in lament of the brokenness of Creation.

It was fascinating to read of Calvin's ideas about the world as God's theater, where we are treated to visions of God's beauty and power and tender love. A theater, however, is not complete without an audience. We are that audience. But not we alone. The trees clap their hands, the deer pants for water... desiring God's power in providing it.

We can ignore God's gifts, God's own delight in Creation and our part in preserving it. To do so, Calvin says, is "to burn the book [of nature] which our Lord has shown us, wittingly undermining the order he has established in nature by playing the butcher in killing the defenseless bird with our own hands..."

One of the more interesting ideas Belden Lane proposed as an outflow of these concepts was not just that we stop hurting the earth and its creatures (for it and they are our cohorts in praise), but that we also seek ways to incorporate them into our liturgies. He asks...

"What have we to learn from wilderness retreats and gardens of prayer, outdoor labyrinths...and fruits and vegetables...brought to the communion table on Sundays and shared with the poor?"

I was also reminded of something I discovered when researching for God in the Yard: some church communities of long ago used to release birds during their services, as a symbol of Divine presence and Spirit. Short of doing this, I suppose we could simply hold services sometimes out-of-doors (and not just at sunrise on Easter Sunday).

In all, the point is praise. For One who sustains the world by his own delight, and, according to Calvin, relies on our delight as an echo, in a partnership of continued creation.

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Blogger Laura said...

This sounds wonderful. I have never read any complete works by Calvin, but our teacher this weekend said that his writings on prayer are amazing. I might have to check that out. Soon. Hey, guess what? I sold a copy of God in the Yard this weekend too! We were talking about how the disciplines are challenging for extraverts and I shared that I had a friend who wrote about that. One of my classmates downloaded your book to Kindle right there.

Blogger Maureen said...

If only humankind might recognize that earth itself is living, that in our praise and tending and care of it we also tend and care for ourselves.

The symbolism of birds is fascinating to explore. To hold them and release them during services seems to me a wonderful way to acknowledge our trust in giving ourselves up to God, to releasing ourselves to enjoy the beauty that indeed ravishes when we open our eyes and are willing to hear "the praise of rain" (what a marvelous phrase).

Blogger Megan Willome said...

"the lament of moisture-empty air"--That is eloquent.

Can't tell you how much it meant to get two-tenths of an inch this week in two different storms. I see grass growing that I thought was surely dead.


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