“O Lord, how manifold are your works!
In wisdom you have made them all;
the earth is full of your creatures.” – Psalm 104:24
In the part of New Hampshire where I live, fall is unfolding, with all of its New England charm. The rows of trees in the apple orchard have the red fruit about to fall to the ground. The big tree in front of our church is full of leaves that blaze orange and yellow. Passersby stop just to take pictures of it.
I see God’s creation in amazing ways this time of year. I grew up in a place with few seasons, so these small signs of fall still amaze me. I hope I never quite get used to them.
There will be days, though, that come in a few months. Each one will be the same. It will be cold and snow will cover the ground. It won’t be the wondrous new snow that’s soft and shiny, but dirty, hard packed ice that lines sidewalks, ready to trip up those of us who use the sidewalks. By March I’ll be longing for the sort of season-less climate where I was raised.
It’s easy to point to God’s goodness by looking at creation on the most beautiful days. It’s a little harder when everything is gray and cold. And yet, without the hard winters, we don’t get the colorful springs, beautiful summers, and postcard-worthy falls.
It’s the same with our own creation. We have times when life is as bright as that tree in front of the church. Other days, everything feels like it’s dying. But sometimes the gray days are the cocoons we need before we burst forth into the world in full color. Learning to appreciate the gray, the unextraordinary, might just be the most profound way of valuing God’s creation, both in the world, and in ourselves.
God, on the grayest of days, show me just a small reminder that you are still at work, and I will show you my hope. Amen.
Emily C. Heath is the Senior Pastor of The Congregational Church in Exeter (New Hampshire) and the author most recently of Courageous Faith: How to Rise and Resist in a Time of Fear.