Saturday, July 16, 2011




I spent a few days this past week at a conference held outside of Toledo Ohio at a resort on Maumee Bay, right on the shore of Lake Erie. More than once I took advantage of the opportunity sit by myself and silently watch the sun come up in the morning or set again in the evening.

Because of the nearby buildings that block my view at home in Newark I practically never get to see either of these everyday phenomena, so the opportunity would have been a treat in any case, but the clean air, the silence, the immense sky and the vast expanse of the lake made these times far more than just enjoyable: they were special gifts from the Lord.

.On one particular morning I got up and went outside with my breviary intending to say Morning Prayer as the sun rose behind a bank of ragged lavender clouds. Well, I did spend the time praying, but I never opened my book. To have taken my eyes off of the beauty around me would have seemed like a sacrilege. So I recited a few psalms from memory, especially Psalm 8, and then simply tried to listen to what the Lord was saying to me in that special moment.

Mostly I kept hearing over and over “I love you!” I felt the message in the refreshing breeze, and squinted at it the pewter ripples of the lake; I heard it in the cries of the wheeling sea gulls and watched as it burst from behind the clouds in the golden shafts of sunlight.

God’s reassuring “I love you” was the same one I hear every day in the Psalms and in the scripture readings of the Liturgy of the Hours, but the beauty surrounding me on Maumee Bay that morning made the message so much more emphatic and convincing.

I sat in my wicker chair, then, and prayed for the people whose love touches or has touched my life, and for people whom God loves in turn through me. The prayer just kept bursting out of me from somewhere deep inside, the way the sunlight was rushing out from behind the clouds.

I shared the experience that the psalmist refers to so often of meeting God in the beauty and wonders of the created world. There’s surely something to be said for praying outdoors under a boundless sky, buttoning your sweater against the breeze and watching birds doing their morning exercises against the backdrop of a glorious sunrise.


Afterward I realized that I had been privileged to be part of a divine revelation, and promised myself to get back my custom of spending a monthly overnight at the monastery’s house in the forest-covered mountains of northern New Jersey.

Surely the Creator can’t want all those sunrises and sunsets to pass unseen!



  1. Since I end up spending most of mass in the back of the church with a loud and active toddler, I really appreciate your posts. They are the homily reflections I miss taking care of my son. I especially loved this post and will spend more time reflecting on God´s love for me and praying when experiencing the beauty of nature.

  2. Thank you Father for a very nice reflection. I often reflect from the universe, inward to the natural handy work of God here on earth. The harmony of the universe and nature are indeed beautiful to contemplate. The why, is more vexing.

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