Best of Daily Reflections: When to Take a Walk Outside
Bless the Lord, O my soul. O Lord my God, you are very great. You are clothed with honor and majesty, wrapped in light as with a garment.
An hour or so after 9-1-1’s triple tragedies, my friend Gary Bowker said to me, “The world will never be the same.” He was right.
It's not the first time a shroud of darkness has been pulled over history.
Psalm 104 was written during a time when a contagious wickedness seemed to have infected everything. Perhaps it was a time like ours. How should we respond to the epidemic of suffering we see in the world, to the reign of terror, to the decay of society, to the celebration of ugliness, to the horrors inflicted on the powerless and especially on children? Reading Psalm 104 is one of God's elixirs for despair.
Until the collapse of the World Trade Center, the area around the base of the twin towers was about what you'd expect, with shops, restaurants, and small islands of landscaping floating on the vast sea of concrete. A Callery pear tree had been growing near Building 5. After the collapse of the towers, the tree lay crushed, burned, and partially separated from its roots by the deluge of falling debris.
During clean-up efforts, the tree was nearly scooped up with the rest of the 1.8 million tons of debris. But workers convinced the New York City Parks Department to give the tree a chance. So they trimmed away all that was dead and burned, planted it in good rich soil, and gave it the best care. Today the tree has a name—Survivor—and it has been planted near the footprint of the South Tower as a sign of hope and promise.
We can think of Psalm 104 as a Callery pear tree, testifying to the absolute faithfulness of God reflected in creation. When trouble overcomes you, take a walk outside. The light that greets you belongs to God. The clouds that drift overhead are God's. Everything you can see—the street, a water tower, a tree—all of it belongs to God. Everything you can’t see—the wind, the aquifer, the Internet—all that is God’s too. Despite its great weight, the earth does not fall, but by God's design it floats in its place, immovable.
When life's not going your way, take Psalm 104 with you and go for walk outside. Lie down on the ground and see what glories you can recognize in the clouds. The whole universe is God's reminder that the power at work in creation is also at work in your life today.
FOR FURTHER REFLECTION:
Do you tend to be optimistic or pessimistic about the future? Where do you most wish God's Kingdom would come in the world around you? How might God be calling you to join him in his work to bring his Kingdom to the world?
Like a scientist with a mind for evidence, an artist with an eye for color, a parent with an ear for their child, give me a heart tuned to yours. Let my whole being resonate with the glories of your indescribably wonderful world. Amen.
READ PASSAGE IN CONTEXT:
Bless the Lord, O my soul.
O Lord my God, you are very great.
You are clothed with honor and majesty,
wrapped in light as with a garment.
You stretch out the heavens like a tent,
you set the beams of your chambers on the waters,
you make the clouds your chariot,
you ride on the wings of the wind,
you make the winds your messengers,
fire and flame your ministers.
You set the earth on its foundations,
so that it shall never be shaken.
You cover it with the deep as with a garment;
the waters stood above the mountains.
At your rebuke they flee;
at the sound of your thunder they take to flight.
They rose up to the mountains, ran down to the valleys
to the place that you appointed for them.
You set a boundary that they may not pass,
so that they might not again cover the earth.
O Lord, how manifold are your works!
In wisdom you have made them all;
the earth is full of your creatures.
Praise the Lord!