Saturday, March 28, 2020

"Wisdom from a Favorite Hymn" by Julie Hanlon-Johnson



This is My Father's World

1 This is my Father's world,
And to my listening ears
All nature sings, and 'round me rings
The music of the spheres.
This is my Father's world;
I rest me in the thought
Of rocks and trees, of skies and seas--
His hand the wonders wrought.

2 This is my Father's world;
The birds their carols raise,
The morning light, the lily white,
Declare their Maker's praise.
This is my Father's world;
He shines in all that's fair; 
In the rustling grass, I hear Him pass,
He speaks to me everywhere.

3 This is my Father's world;
O let me ne'er forget
That though the wrong seems oft so strong,
God is the Ruler yet.
This is my Father's world;
Why should my heart be sad?
The Lord is King: let the heavens ring!
God reigns; let earth be glad!

I love the lyrics to this old hymn, and I find them especially reassuring during this perplexing season. This hymn is full of images of basic elements in our world, uncomplicated and familiar. At this time of uncertainty and social distancing, we are all getting reacquainted with the basics. The basics like being home with our families instead of running to practice, meetings, or classes. Like cooking meals together. Like actually taking the time to read. Like having conversations in person with our household members. Like enjoying your outdoor spaces again. Like realizing the little things are the big things.

I love this hymn's strong subject of nature. Rocks, trees, skies, seas, birds, morning light, white lilies, rustling grass. When I need to clear my head, be sad, make a tough decision, or pray I find myself craving to be with nature, even if it's a simple as watching the stars on my back step. Many of us like outdoor sports because there's just something about natural surroundings that fills our souls and allows us to feel God. "In the rustling grass, I hear Him pass, He speaks to me everywhere."

I find reassurance in the references to God being in charge. "Let me never forget that though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the Ruler yet." Yes, our world has been rocked with COVID-19 but God is still in the driver's seat. Virus-fighting precautions, mandates from our government, information overload, and sudden changes of any kind add to our uneasiness. Although they affect our days, those things are not in control of us.

The hymn ends with a call to happiness. "Why should my heart be sad? The Lord is King: let the heavens ring! God reigns; let earth be glad!" What a joyous message! Not only is God managing things as always, we and the whole of nature can have joy in knowing that He gifted us with an amazing world full of plants, animals, relationships, music, feelings, and astounding variety.

Despite the strangeness of our current situation these beautiful pieces still exist.

Yes, it is a strange world we are living in now. Let's take care of ourselves. Take care of our neighbors. Find joy in the basics. Pray. Meditate. Find beauty in our Father's world. And if you are inclined to sing or hum...try out my favorite hymn. 

Julie

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