Taking notice

“The world is charged with the grandeur of God….”

So begins one of my favourite poems from Gerald Manley Hopkins. The question then is this:

“Have I noticed?”

One of the joys of living in the Highlands at this time of year is the sudden lengthening of the days. From the very, very, short hours of daylight in winter, we are suddenly blessed with ever longer hours of light. (The view below was taken at 8.45pm out of my house capturing the sunset over our lovely St James Church.) And not only longer hours of light but what an amazing light it is! The evening sky is a constantly changing palette of blues, turquoise, dusky pink, red, shade of green and graduated greys. And then the first stars start appearing, small celestial fires lighting up the dark and gladdening the heart. Even on days when the sky is overcast if you look closely you can see hundreds of variations in shade and pattern.

And then there is the whole panorama of nature and wildlife to take note of. From looking out the window into the garden I can see green everywhere…grass, hedges, trees, all bursting into life. Blossom on the hedges, flowers in full spring outfits, blackbirds nesting, sparrows and robins coming to join me as I garden. Everywhere, if I but take time to look, really look, I can see signs of life, hope and newness. And more than that, signs of God.

When Jesus wanted to talk about God, he did not use long theological terms, he did not expound theories or doctrine. Nor did he sit inside a temple or synagogue. He sat outside in a field, or in a boat at the shore, or on a hill. He pointed at the birds of the air, the flowers of the field, the woman sweeping her house or baking bread, the gardener, the shepherd, the fisherman at work.  Everyday people and places and things that could become opportunities for learning about God if people would but pay attention.

 With lockdown it seems to me that we have so many more opportunities to “consider the lilies” as Jesus put it. More time to look at the sky, the trees, the world around us. To see signs of God’s grace in the friendly face at the checkout, the wave from the neighbour, the fresh eggs on the doorstep from a friend. A fresh chance to re-orientate our lives, to take stock and to learn to pay attention to the signs of God all around us. Try switching off the endless news cycle and see if you can read instead the daily news of God’s care, love and help by really paying attention to the world around where you are.

According to the Jewish Talmud, every blade of grass has an angel bending over it whispering, “Grow, grow.” Maybe we all just need to start looking a bit more closely……..

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