stumbling into praise

an aspen groveI find myself in a yellow aspen grove,
Engulfed within joyful cascades of clapping leaves,
They brush my ears with sweet delight
And fill my eyes with beauty

It is a pure, deep gift of grace.
How can my heart but leap with hope?
I find the secret wonder of praise,
Released within my soul.

Somehow, I always thought that praise
Was a duly grateful, ‘thank you.’
But it is so much more.
It is a slide into pure joy,

It is a sudden recognition
Of your overwhelming goodness
Swallowing up the daily sorrow
And muddy deceits of satan’s whispers.

All that is wrong in the world
Is swallowed up in one sweet glimpse of you;
Of your power and holiness and —
Oh my, of your unbelievable love.

You direct that love outward
In a vast, creative embrace of all that is.
It shows itself in the trill of the bird.
It springs forth in song in these aspen leaves.

And, sweet wonder, you direct that love to me.
Praise sweeps humility off its feet,
As that great love enfolds me,
My small heart beating in time with yours.


Praise to you, Oh Holy One,
The pure delight of all the skies,
The maker of each atom and each star,
The lover of life, the author of hope.

You dance with all of creation,
Having made her for yourself.
Praise to you for such a dance.
And for my place within it.

Praise for what is
For what is promised.
Praise to you for solid hope.
The recreation has begun.

All praise.

another aspen grove

[1st photo by Dennis Grice per cc 2.0]
[2nd photo by Mitch Barrie per cc 2.0]

wonder’s dust

sunset in Marathon

Praise to God, to God, to God
Praise to God, my soul!

I can wiggle my toes into the edges of the ocean,
but never plumb its depths.

I can tickle the skirt of the sky,
and let it wrap me round
and let it enter in at every breath,
but even imagination cannot examine its bounds.

I can lean me back in your love,
and wake my soul to ever-new delights,
but it is more, is more, is more
than I can grasp.

Instead, it grasps me
and holds me
and stirs me to praise.

The edges of wonder dust my days.

I praise
and in the praising, stretch my soul
to gather wonder’s dust in sheer delight of you.

9 29 11

[photo is my own]

the aspen temple

aspen grove

We learn to praise God not by paying compliments, but by paying attention. Watch how the trees exult when the wind is in them. Mark the utter stillness of the great blue heron in the swamp. Listen to the sound of the rain. Learn how to say “Hallelujah” from the ones who say it right. – Frederick Buechner


I walk down the hill to a shimmering grove of aspen, whose leaves dance together with each breeze, whose very trunks seem to sway in reverent unison, humming in silent tones a melody of wonder.

I step inside the grove. Even the air is different here. It is a crystal essence through which I walk, almost touchable, caressing me like water in a cool steam. The trees have formed a temple, more holy, more pure than any that could be made by human hands. The trunks of the great trees form living columns and the canopy of dancing leaves become the roof. The ground, the floor of this living temple, is a patterned tapestry of grasses, growing lush and resilient, too much for the shady space within a wood. Fed by the crystal air and held in harmony by the holiness of the place, the grassy floor spreads forth its beauty.

I stand at the edge of this temple of trees, full of wonder, drinking in with every breath a little of the essence that makes the very air glow. I am filled with worship, with praise, with wonder at the majesty and grace of God, with this perfect harmony, the almost crushing presence in each leaf and blade. The whole earth trembles, barely able to hold the essence that has poured itself into this form. The God of all creation, the God of each blade of grass, the God who formed my very soul – this God inhabits this place in a way that is more real than I have yet seen. Here worship is not an obligation, it is the overflow of wonder too big to be contained within such a small space as one’s own heart.

I drop to my knees – not in shame or even humility — for the glory of the place has driven out all preoccupation with self. I drop to the ground because I am overwhelmed with — what words are there? – more awesome than joy and not so selfish as gratitude, I am wrapped with an all encompassing love. It calls me into being; a being beyond who I could ever hope to be. It calls not for duty, not for obligation, but for creation itself.

Even worship is not a gift I give, but a gift to me. I never knew.

What can I give to the One who has created all? Only that which has already been given to me – and which I can withhold or offer, as if I, myself, had made it. I give my heart, and in the giving, I participate in its creation – in its recreation.

In this crystal moment, the Holy One reaches down into this temple of trees and lifts me to herself, hugs me to her own heart. There my heart is bound with hers and beats in timid rhythm with her own.

Oh majestic wonder, I feel it still, quietly beating inside me as I begin my day.


[photo by Rob Lee per cc 2.0]

Cricket’s Song


Sometimes it’s not the thunderclap,
but the raindrop’s tap
that steals my heart.


To know that you are God enough to pay attention to the smallest detail:
The shiver of an aspen leaf,
the remembered smell of my grandmother’s perfume
the burst of a blueberry upon my tongue
the whispered beauty on a wrinkled face
my daughter’s sigh as she sleeps in my arms
These seal my soul in you.

Let me be the cricket,
singing praise upon your hearth.


[photo by Mark Robinson per cc 2.0]