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Signposts: Daily Devotions

Written by Mary C. Earle

Wednesday, April 22

Hallelujah! Praise the LORD from the heavens;
Praise him in the heights.
—Psalm 148:1

In our front yard stands an old, gracious oak tree. A forester friend of ours once said she thought the oak was at least 200 years old. Salado Creek is not far from here; our friend speculated that the tree might have had many visitors camp beneath its branches over time, close enough to the creek to get water, but far enough and high enough to be watchful for danger.

Not so very long ago, a red-tail hawk frequented the oak. The hawk was in the process of courting a mate, and occasionally, we would see them together. However, the hawk was primarily here because of the white wing doves who feed regularly just outside my office window. Ready lunch for a hawk.

We also have cardinals and blue jays, yellow-headed woodpeckers and chickadees. Sometimes the old oak is full of birds lining up to dine at the various feeders. Their calls fill the air—the jay’s distinctive screech, and the titmouse’s “bee-bee-bee”.

For the psalmist, these are sounds of praise—each creature voicing its own gladness for life and for food. In psalm 148, we are given a vision of creation itself voicing praise—sea creatures and wild beasts, cattle and creeping things, birds—all of these creatures are called into a universal chorus of praise. Fog, wind, fire, hail, snow—all offering praise.

I have a sense that the venerable old oak offers praise just by being. It endures through drought and flood, through pollution and heat. When its branches are full of various species of birds all calling and chatting, it seems idyllic.

And my part?  I feed the birds. I put native plants in the yard in order to create a little microsystem that brings bugs and butterflies. I keep the water fresh in the bird baths. And then I sit on the porch, and watch. I watch the oak I did not create, that predates me by decades. I watch the hawk and the jays, the titmice and the chickadees, the sparrows and the cardinals—all inside Loop 410 in urban San Antonio.

And I am reminded: I did not bring any of this into being. I did not speak the creating Word that designed the feathers of the tweed-wearing woodpecker. I did not even make the sunflower seeds or the peanuts that go in the feeders.

So I praise God for the startling blue flash of the jay, for the hawk’s wildness and the cardinal’s red presence. I praise God for the oak and for the wild persimmon, for the yaupon holly and the salvias. And for the time to see and give thanks.

We praise You for your creation, and join the chorus of creatures, earth, sea and sky, offering thanks for the abundant life all around us. Amen.