The following four poets/pray-ers express awe and gratitude for God’s bountiful heart as conveyed through nature, a gift given freely to everyone—new every morning. Each attributes to God an exceeding liberality, even prodigality (wastefulness), in such daily bestowals, which, as the Brazilian Catholic archbishop Hélder Pessoa Câmara (1909–1999) suggests below, ought to inform our own giving.
Untitled poem by Emily Dickinson
As if I asked a common Alms— And in my wondering hand A Stranger pressed a Kingdom, And I, bewildered, stand— As if I asked the Orient Had it for me a Morn— And it should lift its purple Dikes, And shatter Me with Dawn!
Written in 1858; source: The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson, ed. Thomas H. Johnson (Cambridge, MA: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1955)
Untitled poem by George MacDonald
Gloriously wasteful, O my Lord, art thou! Sunset faints after sunset into the night, Splendorously dying from thy window-sill— For ever. Sad our poverty doth bow Before the riches of thy making might: Sweep from thy space thy systems at thy will— In thee the sun sets every sunset still.
Source: A Book of Strife in the Form of the Diary of an Old Soul (self-pub., 1880)
“The Excesses of God” by Robinson Jeffers
Is it not by his high superfluousness we know Our God? For to equal a need Is natural, animal, mineral: but to fling Rainbows over the rain And beauty above the moon, and secret rainbows On the domes of deep sea-shells, And make the necessary embrace of breeding Beautiful also as fire, Not even the weeds to multiply without blossom Nor the birds without music: There is the great humaneness at the heart of things, The extravagant kindness, the fountain Humanity can understand, and would flow likewise If power and desire were perch-mates.
Source: Be Angry at the Sun and Other Poems (New York: Random House, 1941)
Untitled prayer by Hélder Pessoa Câmara, OFS
Lord, isn’t your creation wasteful? Fruits never equal the seedlings’ abundance. Springs scatter water. The sun gives out enormous light. May your bounty teach me greatness of heart. May your magnificence stop me being mean. Seeing you a prodigal and open-handed giver, let me give unstintingly like a king’s child, like God’s own.
Source: The Hodder Book of Christian Prayers, compiled by Tony Castle (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1986)
3 thoughts on “Nature as extravagant gift from God”
Thanks Victoria, beautiful post. Also just wanted to say how much I’m enjoying your posts generally! I had your September music playlist going all last month and now getting into the October one. Thanks from here in Wellington, NZ.
Lovely–thanks for posting! I just saw a rainbow the other day and it did seem like a promise from God. http://www.festaldesign.com
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