As Long As Frogs Sing
On the glorious splendor of your majesty and on your wondrous works I will meditate.
God calls us to love life, to luxuriate in the blessings he has given us and continues to give throughout our lives. We are called simply to be attentive, to remove ourselves from the hundreds of daily distractions long enough to be aware, to notice, to rest in the quiet, to look and to listen. All around each of us, little miracles flare up often if only we pay attention.
As I walk the days and years toward the end of my earthly life, I find myself overwhelmed by the beauty that surrounds me. So many things bring a smile to my face and joy to my heart, no matter how many times they come my way – the laughter of children playing, the tantalizing aroma of cinnamon, the softness of a kitten’s fur, the harmonies of music well-played, the sound of wind through the pines, the calming beauty of a summer sunset.
Our earth itself offers amazing gifts. My spirit soars with the pelicans floating overhead gracefully as if carried by gentle ocean waves. Their wings flash sparks as they reflect the winter sun. I laugh to watch the winter goldfinches, not yet dressed in their summer vests of dazzling yellow, patiently waiting turns to sip water from the knot of a sweet gum while just yards away, a flock of cedar waxwings in their black burglar masks noisily feasts on the fruits of a hackberry.
A regal red-tailed hawk, whom I have named Tullia through long acquaintance, gave me a lesson in patience and perseverance one morning. Hunting for breakfast in a field along River Road, Tullia flew low over the winter grasses, searching. As I watched, my back grew tired with the waiting as Tullia seemed to meticulously and methodically examine each inch of the field, sometimes hovering in one place like a helicopter, sometimes dropping down to the earth suddenly only to rise again with nothing but dirt and tufts of brown grass in her talons. She stayed at her task for forty minutes without rest until successfully snatching a field mouse and returning to her oak perch to eat and rest at last. Such beauty, such determination, such patience!
January arrived this year without the sound of the spring peepers, tiny frogs who appear soon after Christmas as early heralds of approaching springtime. Their call is a series of fairly robust clicks and clacks on a rising tone, totally distinct from the calls of warm weather species. Hearing their enthusiastic song always brings to me not only joy but also a sense of hope for the future. At their absence this year I fell into worry and despair, wondering if we had finally poisoned our air and water to the point of non-survivability for these tiny creatures. Some weeks later, however, I heard their call in a nearby park. As the frogs sang their joy to the world, my spirit soared with hope renewed.
God’s creation is filled with endless beauty and deep mystery. We are called to be attentive and to be astonished. Through our observations and experiences we are invited to feel the presence of the Creator. In the words of C.S. Lewis, “we may ignore, but we can nowhere evade the presence of God. The world is crowded with him. He walks everywhere incognito.” (1) Through the great blue whale, the tiniest insect and every human being that walks the earth, God reveals his majesty and his love. When we are attentive, we become filled with awe and gratitude. When the awe and gratitude bubble up in us, the only response is worship.
Poet Mary Oliver so exquisitely reminds us:
Sometimes I need
only to stand
wherever I am
to be blessed. (2)
As I continue my walk, I live in constant gratitude for the gifts of life our God so generously gives. My prayers for peace and wholeness for the world are often intermingled with simple thanks for the song of spring peepers, Tullia in her meadow, the baby box turtle sleeping in the mulch under my window, and the young possum who has found shelter from the icy blast in my compost bin. All miracles, all amazing, all blessings.
(1) Letters to Malcom: Chiefly on Prayer; San Diego: Harvest, 1904, p. 75.
(2) Evidence: Poems; Boston: Beacon Press, 2009, p.21.