Thursday, May 4, 2017

Delight – Every Blade of Grass

I mowed my lawn yesterday and was reminded of this poem by Walt Whitman:

A child said, What is the grass? fetching it to me with full
How could I answer the child?. . . .I do not know what it
                        is any more than he.
I guess it must be the flag of my disposition, out of hopeful
                        green stuff woven.
Or I guess it is the handkerchief of the Lord,
A scented gift and remembrancer designedly dropped,
Bearing the owner’s name someway in the corners, that we
                        may see and remark, and say Whose?
– Walt Whitman, A Song of Myself from Leaves of Grass

I am taken with Whitman’s image of grass as a “scented gift and remembrancer designedly dropped.” Think about that next time you smell mowed grass. Something as common grass (at least in the American Midwest) bears “the owner’s name someway in the corners” if we just pay attention. Of course, this is not just true of grass. As John Calvin said,

There is not one little blade of grass, there is no color in this world that is not intended to make us rejoice.

All of creation is the handkerchief of the Lord designedly dropped in God’s ongoing courtship with each of us.

All this thinking about grass reminded me of this wonderful line from the Talmud, the ancient compilation of Jewish moral and ethical debate:

What a lovely image. And, again, this is not just about grass, but about God’s intimate care and delight in every aspect of creation. One of the Hebrew words translated “delight” in the Old Testament is chaphets (חָפֵץ) the root meaning of which is “to bend over.” With delight, God bends over each blade of grass and all of creation whispering “Grow, grow.” May we take the time to pay attention with all our senses to rejoice and delight in the wonder of creation, large and small. May we receive it all with gratitude as a handkerchief of the Lord, a scented gift and remembrancer designedly dropped. bearing the owner’s name someway in the corners.

And this is true as well of each human being – more so as humans are that part of creation made in the image of God and to whom God has entrusted the earth (Psalm 115:16). How would it be if we engaged one another as a “gift and remembrancer designedly dropped” in our paths to draw us deeper into the life and love of God?

Jesus said, “See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven” (Matthew 18:10). That makes we wonder if maybe it is not just every blade of grass that has its angel that bends over it in delight. Each of these little ones – every child – has its own angel bending over it whispering, “Grow, grow.” I suspect that does not end when a child is fully grown. If there is an angel bending over you even now in the name of God’s delight whispering, “Grow, grow,” what new growth might it be drawing you toward?

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