It’s easy to sink into gloom and moroseness, especially in the dark days at the end of the year. Yet we are surrounded (even in London Zone 4) with trees that sing for joy. Walking past the small, ancient meadow which clings to the slopes of the hill close to where we live I suddenly ‘saw’ the trees glowing with the yellowness of late autumn – and my heart sang for joy. The man walking in front of me had his eyes glued to his iPhone – maybe he was watching something that lightened his heart, but so often we simply don’t ‘see’ what creation offers to change our hearts.
The psalmist knows this and often tells of the way the whole world sings for joy:
Let the heavens rejoice and earth be glad;
let the sea and all within it thunder praise.
Let the land and all it bears rejoice.
Then will all the trees of the wood shout for joy
at the presence of the LORD. (Ps.96. 12f)
When I see the heavens, the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars which you arranged,
what is man that you should keep him in mind,
the son of man that you care for him? (Ps.8. 4f)
It’s easy to let ourselves be drawn into despondency, sadness and despair yet we are surrounded by a world which cries out that beauty, wonder and mystery surround us. The Psalms, in particular, will direct our attention to the glory and majesty that is ours as part of a good creation, yet we can forget or ignore this source of well-being. The waters that feed our heart can be fresh or they can be brackish, pure or toxic. Just as we are becoming aware of the dangers to our bodies of feeding off unhealthy food, so we need to be aware that what we look at can nourish or poison us.
Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice,
and let them say among the nations, “The Lord is king!”
Let the sea roar, and all that fills it;
let the field exult, and everything in it.
Then shall the trees of the forest sing for joy
before the Lord, for he comes to judge the earth.
O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
for his steadfast love endures forever. (1 Chronicles 16. 31f)