In 1864, Folliott S. Pierpont wrote a hymn entitled: “For the beauty of the earth”. The first verse is:
“For the beauty of the earth, for the glory of the skies.
For the love which from our birth over and around us lies;
Christ our God, to Thee we raise this our hymn of grateful praise.”
Wikipedia says: “Pierpont wrote these words because he was mesmerized by the beauty of the countryside that surrounded him.”
I found myself humming the tune to this song over the last few weeks as I walked on the macadam walking path that encircles our development. I made it a point to be more observant of the sights and sounds during my walks.
Since I am a man of freckles, the first thing I noticed was the “white freckles” the birds provided on the macadam. Boy, they are good shots! The white freckles quickly disappeared during a rainstorm, only to start to reappear shortly after the rays of sunshine replaced the dark clouds.
This brought to mind someone who has placed his faith in Jesus Christ. We know we are separated from God because He requires us to be sinless (impossible on our own). Therefore, God sent Christ to earth to die on the cross for our sins.
Yes, we are similar to those birds who immediately start to dirty our path once it is clean. However, the similarity stops there. In the Old Testament times, sacrifices were made at select times to separate us from our sins. However, with the death of Christ and his shed blood on the cross, our past, present and future sins are forgiven so that upon our death, we are assured of eternal salvation with God.
As I walked further, I particularly noticed much of God’s creation. The fish in our community’s pond were interesting to watch as I threw them bread off the dock. Most times there are a few to a dozen catfish, the biggest fish in the pond, numbering a few to a dozen. These catfish appear to be about 18 inches long and by far dominate the other small fish in the pond, by gobbling (if fish gobble) the majority of the bread.
I just want to say to them: “Take it easy, there is more bread to come! Just remember how far Jesus stretched those five loaves of bread and two fish to the more than 5,000 people.” (Mark chapter 6)
Other animals included two small dogs in neighboring yards adjacent to our community who thought they were playing taps. One would do its barking routine and as soon as it was done, the one in the other yard would mimic it.
Oh, I can’t leave out the birds: the doves cooing as if to say: “Peace on Earth” during this tumultuous time with COVID-19, followed by the many robins, cardinals and two skinny bunnies. One of the animals I miss the most is the cook-a-doodle-do of the rooster on my walk. I used to hear it often when passing its backyard, but recently, when I pass its yard, all is quiet. Maybe he is being mentored by the above doves.
The other animal I miss is the frog, which used to croak each time I passed him in a retention pond for water overflow during storms. Hopefully he jumped off to a more favorable place.
All the above is good, but the best is yet to come…the people. In this time of COVID-19, we have not had the opportunity to talk with people very much. I really took advantage of talking to people on my walks (social distancing enforced of course).
First, I saw a couple enjoying their patio that I haven’t talked with in sometime. I walked across their grass telling them I would not get too close. They immediately asked me to come to their patio and have a seat. I did so reluctantly, but took a seat that was a distance from them. We ended our discussion 30 to 40 minutes later.
As I left, I told them that I had a wonderful time talking with them. I greeted many other people on that macadam walk, some friends from years past and quite a few people I hadn’t met before, all the while trying to connect their names with other people I know or things I am familiar with so I could address them by name next time we pass.
My vagary was interrupted walking along the last portion of the macadam that runs along the busy Route #322, as I heard the hum of the tires on the cars and trucks as the rubber on the tires wears away in infinitesimal bits as the tires rotate, somewhat like our lives do.
Yes, the beauty of the earth is a miraculous thing; especially if we slow down to see and listen to His creation!
Jeff Hall, of Honey Brook, contributes columns to Berks-Mont Newspapers.