by Jay Ashworth
“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge. They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them. Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. (Psalm 19:1- 4)
On 1 January, I challenged myself to go for a walk every day this year and record something I noticed. I’m on day 56 and am enjoying the daily rhythm. I don’t always walk very far, it might be my usual short walk to work or a wander around my garden. I live in the countryside so my walks are usually in green places but if I am away from home I walk and look for nature in the town, city or suburb I find myself in.
It’s not just the walking that enriches my day but also noticing, recording and sometimes researching to find out more about what I have seen and heard. When a route or place is familiar it is easy to go by without noticing the emerging flower bud, a bird singing in the trees or the unique colour of the sky in a particular moment. Walking each day and being aware of what is around me is changing my relationship with the places I walk and deepening my relationship with our creator God.
These verses from Psalm 19 express the idea that creation speaks truths about the God who created it and can inspire those who have eyes to see. The Psalmist speaks of the skies declaring God’s glory simply through their existence and we can understand this – the hopeful light of sunrise, the spectacular colours of a sunset, the multitude of stars on a clear dark night. There is something overwhelmingly beautiful about such things. We can choose to simply acknowledge their loveliness and move on or we can, along with the Psalmist, allow such sights to reveal something of our God to us.
Last week I went to Eastbourne Pier at dusk to watch the Starling murmuration. It’s something I have wanted to see for a long time but somehow, despite only living thirty minutes away I hadn’t managed to get there before. A small group of birds was flying when I arrived and as others joined them the shapes and patterns they formed against the blue sky and orange of the setting sun grew more complex and fascinating. I was moved almost to tears and stood in speechless awe at their glorious acrobatics.
The Psalmist expressed it well, such natural phenomena ‘have no speech, they use no words….yet their voice goes out into all the earth’. The skies and starlings proclaim God’s glory and demonstrate his creativity for all to see.
A daily walk might not always contain such drama but there is always something to focus on that illustrates God’s inventive creativity and makes me pause in wonder and praise.
Jay Ashworth is Ornamental Gardens Manager at Ashburnham Christian Trust, one of A Rocha UK’s Partners in Action. She spent six months volunteering at A Rocha Canada’s British Columbia site.