For the past year or so, I have been volunteering with my church’s Ancient Paths ministry, a program that seeks to bring people to greater wholeness in Christ through spiritual disciplines and time spent in the wilderness. This poem was an assignment set to us a few months ago, when we were asked to write our own version of Psalm 104. This is mine.
In a season of deep division and distress on a global level, I find myself often returning to the anchor of what I know about God, and can see in God’s creation. This poem, written about the lake near my house, is an expression of that returning, clinging to God’s beauty and love in a time of uncertainty.
O God, you are mostly written in a language
of which I know only a few phrases.
Once in a while I understand you.
Mostly I don’t. But language isn’t everything.
Monet and I could only ever
have spoken about crepes and wine,
or the numbers one through six,
but his paintings transport me t
o sun-dappled gardens
and Venice on a misty morning.
I could only have said
“yes,” “no” and “goodbye”
to Tchaikovsky, but he could still
tell me a story in song,
where words hardly matter.
I know you this way, in a place beyond words.
I see you spreading out
the green hills of this land
like a picnic blanket,
creased and folded into hills and valleys,
filling with silver streams and mirrored lakes.
I hear you singing these waterfowl
into their chattering multitude,
teaching the beech trees
to dance and whisper,
just so, in the wind.
I smell the rain you scattered into the sky,
the clouds that promise
that the million greens
you splashed about with abandon
will never fade.
I feel the solid earth
beneath my feet
and this pavement we’ve dressed it in,
the depth of matter
you put down when it all began.
I taste and see that You are good.
A grey sky shines on this grey lake,
but all I see is green.
Green of grass and tree, leaf and fruit.
Green of summer
that followed green of spring.
Green that will leave for a while, partly,
only to rush back again.
Green that is unchanging
but always changing,
a flickering monochrome
to remind me where I am.
You, O Wordless One, are the green.
There is more I do not know,
more I will never know,
more that I long to know about You,
but this I know:
You made this.
You love this.
You made me.
You love me.
You made this because you found it good, lovely.
I find it lovely because you made me, too.
We were made for each other,
this lake and I,
and both of us were made for You.