At 6:29 am light breaks over the Sangre de Christo mountains, banishing shadows and flooding the valley before me with the deep greens and reds and ochres of the American southwest. Swallows come from nowhere and send their wheeling shadows across the adobe wall outside my window. New Mexico is fittingly called “the Land of Enchantment.”
Blessed are you, O Lord our God, maker and ruler of the universe!
I should be out walking but I want to package this moment, to get it down on paper and on film. I need to put it up like I used to jar summer fruit for the winter; to store it on my heart so I can take it out when life is dull and dreary.
I want to sing along with Psalm 148—
Praise the Lord from the earth…
Mountains and all hills,
fruit trees and all cedars!
Beasts and all cattle,
creeping things and flying birds!…
Let them praise the name of the Lord,
for his name alone is exalted;
his glory is above earth and heaven…
Praise the Lord!
Some of the people in these mountain towns, drawn like me to the beauty, treat it as a god to worship. They pay their respects with brushes and paint, they fashion jewels and erect altars and work hard to sustain it. So far so good . . . but why can’t they see beyond it to the hand that made it (and who truly does sustain it)? Why can’t they see the gift?
You have filled our world with wonders, Lord:
Fill us with reverence and delight
I am overcome by the lavish gifts of God. And I wonder, with all this spectacle around me, who am I that he cares for me? What kind of God is do we have, who creates perfection, who must delight in the praise creation sings simply by being that which he made it to be — yet who still loves those of us who, sadly, can forget him?
Again, the Psalmist said it best—
Who is like the Lord, our God,
who has risen on high to his throne
yet stoops from the heights to look down,
to look down upon heaven and earth? (Psalm 113)
Today for me is about PRAISE and AWE. Will you join me this Memorial Day weekend and remember not only those who gave their lives for us, but also the One who made possible life and everything glorious about it? I plan to set aside some time each day to meditate on one or more Psalms of praise. If this is something new to you, I recommend Psalm 145, but the Psalms are full of praises. Choose one and read it again and again for several days and let it teach you to lift your voice.
O Magnify the Lord with me and let us exalt his name together! (Psalm 34:3)
Karen Sheehy says
Love the southwest desert! Beauty, solitude, and certainly the hand of God just cry out in glory. Reminds me of the desert in the Holy Land. I love the stark beauty and heat of the desert, along with the occasional tucked away oasis and hidden treasures that you often find there. Enjoy Sarah, and I look forward to your Psalm meditations!
I just spent a glorious week on the South Carolina coast. All I could say when I beheld the majesty of the ocean was, “Sand and surf, bless the Lord! Praise and exult Him above all else forever.”
Pam Memmer says
Magnificent! I will read Psalm 145 this Memorial Day weekend. and meditate on it. My husband and I camp a lot here in Texas but I have never stopped to thank God who created this beauty and keeps it so beautiful. and gives me the opportunity to witness it. Thank you Sarah for this meditation.
Arlita Winston says
We are seeing it through your eyes, Sarah! You bring back the memories and renew our awe in our Creator and His creation! And that includes US!
Thank you Sarah for your post. I wonder if you could list the Psalms of praise so that I can make my mediation with them.
Best wishes, Norman from Santiago, Chile
Sarah Christmyer says
There are many psalms of praise of different types. A good place to start is with group of Psalms that the whole psalter leads you to, those at the end: Psalms 145-150. Another grouping is the so-called Egyptian Hallel, Psalms 113-118. These celebrate God as savior and are said by the Jews on Passover (celebrating the release from Egypt) and other feasts.
There are “descriptive” praise psalms like #s 28, 36, 105, 111, 113, 117, 135, 136, 146, and 147.
There are “declarative” praise psalms, also called “thanksgiving psalms,” like 18, 21, 30, 32, 24, 40, 41, 66, 106, 116, and 138.
Wherever you start – enjoy! And happy praising.