by Carol Dixon
‘Then God looked at everything he had made.
It was very beautiful, so very good!’ [Book of Books by Trevor Dennis]
The other day I posted one of David Adam’s beautiful prayers about caring for God’s world on Godspacelight in response to Louise Connor’s reflection “Back” and its Stories and I thought it would be good to tell a bit of the story behind David’s lovely prayer.
Recently my daily devotions have been taken from some of the Celtic writers and their care for the world we live in. I was blest to meet Canon David Adam, a prolific writer on Celtic spirituality, when he was the vicar of Lindisfarne and to see his living spirituality in action firsthand as he prayed and taught in the church there. Afterward we shared some memories of growing up in Northumberland – we were both from the town of Alnwick. Although David was 10 years older than me, many of our memories of our hometown and the countryside around it in the mid part of the 20th century were the same and we both shared a love of the beauty of the world God created.
It seemed a simpler time then in the early 1950s, post World War 2, when people didn’t have much and what we had we often shared with our neighbours. There didn’t seem to be the striving towards acquiring more and more possessions and most people were in the same boat – rationing was a great leveler – and there wasn’t as much plastic about. Both our mothers carried string shopping bags for their daily shop and the weekly groceries were delivered by a boy on a bicycle in a cardboard box on the front of it (it must have taken him ages to deliver everything!). The travelling shop stopped in each street once a week and the fishmonger brought round locally caught fish door to door and for the rest of the fresh items we went for the daily ‘messages’ to the butchers, bakers etc. (no fridges in those days), while the milkman was up early in the morning to deposit a glass milk bottle on each doorstep. I was delighted to discover that his grandfather was the lamplighter whom my granny used to tell me came round at 8pm every night just after curfew sounded on the Town Hall clock in Market Place. We agreed that it wasn’t all idyllic though – most of the buildings were a sooty black from the coal fires and the fields on the edge of town smelled strongly of invasive fertiliser in early spring to encourage the crops to grow in the cold northeast climate – perhaps that is why he came to care so much for the environment round us.
In his final book Love The World David traces the history of the universe and encourages us to care for the Earth. He invites us to look upon our planet and care for it as God does.
In the chapter on Grasses, he writes ‘grasses grow from their base… So they are almost indestructible surviving fire, flood, frost and drought, grazing animals and mowing by humans. Grasslands support and sustain more animals than any other habitat… Let us remember that includes us.‘ and he continues with a poem.
Lament for a hay meadow.
The year the farmer ploughed the hay meadow
I felt bereft; it had been there since my birth.
Machinery had done its work
And the creatures had lost their home.
Sweet grasses, corn cockle and bunting,
Lark song from the sky,
The yellow buttercup and the bees,
All disappeared without time for goodbye.
Lady’s mantle and her bedstraw,
The oxeye daisies and the camomile,
Never to be seen anymore.
To lose flowers, birds and creatures
Feel like a total eclipse of the sun. [© David Adam]
We are astounded at your care for the world,
For each tiny bird and bush,
plant and person, insect and animal;
For each star and constellation in the immensity
Of the beautiful universe that you created;
And as you looked at everything you had made
You saw that it was good.
Help us to look upon our earth and its people
With the same love and learn to care for it
as you care for all things, from the greatest to the least
So that we leave our planet ‘as good as new’
For future generations who come after us
So they may see that everything is beautiful
As you intended.
(© Carol Dixon – based on ‘God makes the world’ from The Book of Books – The Bible retold for young people by Trevor Dennis)
My friend (& co-writer for Godspacelight) Sheila Hamil has written a wonderful song about seeing the world with God’s eyes which she is delighted for me to share with you.
May it be our prayer too.
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Return to Our Senses explores approaches to prayer that connect our spiritual practices to everyday life, awakening all our senses to a deeper relationship to our loving God. Some of the practices have existed for centuries and only require us to tap into the rich knowledge and practices of ancient followers of Christ to access them. Others will be newly created, springing fresh from our imaginations and creativity, specially designed for intimacy with God in our present culture. This is a great book for group study.