Psalm 63: 1-8
O God, you are my God, I seek you,
my soul thirsts for you;
my flesh faints for you,
as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary,
beholding your power and glory.
Because your steadfast love is better than life,
my lips will praise you.
So I will bless you as long as I live;
I will lift up my hands and call on your name.
My soul is satisfied as with a rich feast,
and my mouth praises you with joyful lips
when I think of you on my bed,
and meditate on you in the watches of the night;
for you have been my help,
and in the shadow of your wings I sing for joy.
My soul clings to you;
your right hand upholds me.
(Revised Standard Version)
Here is the aside lesson based on the photograph:
The above photograph is a picture of deer moss, Cladonia Evanii, (or so I think identified properly) which is not so much a moss or plant but rather a lichen…it is also known as Reindeer Lichen. It’s a bit between a cross of a fungus and an algae. Lichens are known to grow from woodland areas to the tundra areas of arctic regions and are found on all 7 continents. This particular lichen grows in pillow-like mats and is an indicator of a healthy environment. They are edible, with proper preparation, and have been used as the catalyst for distilled spirits in Scandinavian countries as well as in Russia.
These types of lichen have been the go to nutrient for those lost in the wilderness and yield themselves to being great tinder for starting a fire—a wonderful little survival gem which may be eaten (do prepare with soakings and cooking as I read it can cause terrible gastric distress if consumed raw) or made into a nutrient rich tea. If you’ve ever watched a Bear Grylls show, this stuff is right up his alley!
In the photograph you may be able to note some red little specks dotted about–these are the tops of another member of the lichen family known as redcoat lichen, matchstick lichen or British moss—as the little red tops “liken” 😉 themselves to the coats of the Revolutionary British soldiers. I’ve remembered the story about these little guys ever since I was in girl scouts.
We had gone to Callaway Gardens, a 65,000 acre resort complex first envisioned in the 30’s by the Callaway family, and opened to the public in the 50’s—it is a vast tribute to nature, horticulture and agriculture—a wooded respite about 1.5 hours south west of Atlanta founded by the wealthy Callaway family–and is today a living legacy to their vision of protecting native plants, in particular a specific species of azalea–our girl scout troop had made the journey to Callaway Gardens for a weekend campout. We were escorted through the nature trails by a guide who pointed out all sorts of native plants, moss and trees….it was just one of those little tidbit pieces of information that just seems to stick in one’s memory.
One of my favorite pastimes is to traverse local woods–escaping the “cityesque” urban life, albeit momentarily, to wander aimlessly through the woods. I can still marvel at the various plants and trees—often finding antler sheds from the deer, feathers from birds—with the owl, turkey or hawk feathers being of great significance. I suppose I often yearn to leave my world and enter into what I consider to be “God’s” world—as nature is truly His creation—certainly not ours.
It is when I am out and about in the woods, or mountains, or by the sea….any place that is of Nature- that I can feel closer to God. I’ve often said that throughout my posts–how I feel closer to God when I’m out of and away from my manmade world. It’s as if a transformation takes place within my very being. Everything slows down. The looming troubles of life seem to dissipate. All that seems to matter is that very moment, me and my surroundings. The songs of the birds, the rustling of the leaves underfoot, the wind rushing through the tops of the trees, to spy a glimpse of a deer or wild turkey —all tiny gifts delivered to me from my Creator.
It is at these times I can almost hear God….”so I have looked upon you in the sanctuary….”–this is when I realize just how “my soul thirsts for you…” this is where I feel as if “I have been satisfied with a rich feast…”—a feast for my eyes and senses….it is here when I know that “I am sheltered under the protection of His wing….and I will sing praises of joy…”
Thank you for Your creation—the wonders that renew and refresh my weary soul.
Yes, walking in the woods speaks to my innermost being. As often as I can, I take my little grandchildren for a walk in the woods so that they can experience the closeness of God and God’s creation. I did this with my children as well. Thank you for this beautiful reminder of the healing power of God’s creation.
I have to “go there”:
“An algae and a fungus took a lichen to each other, but the marriage ended up on the rocks.” 😉
Lichen is one of the more interesting things in nature — not a cross between an algae and a fungus, but a symbiotic relationship between the two. They are fascinating (in a very nerdy way).
I find it wearying that so many in Christian circles ignore worship of God in nature because it can get precariously close to aplace where one could worship creation snd not the creator. Certainly this is a pitfall to be avoided, but that does not mean negating or ignoring the wonder that is this world.
That book I’m reading from the butterfly post ( http://stvaltheeccentric.wordpress.com/2013/07/18/sorrow-dying-hope-and-two-butterflies/ )? “Hiking Through.” You’d like it. 🙂