I woke up early this morning with an urge to take my morning prayer outdoors. With just a hint of light behind the clouds speeding overhead, a strong north wind heralding the coming cold front, a quick cup of coffee warming my insides, and my blue windbreaker over a ratty sweatshirt warming my outsides, I headed into the pre-dawn woods. To pray. To be. Among the creatures.
The core of my prayer life — long before I called it “prayer” — has always been outdoors. Walking or running through the woods. Just being there, surrounded by the tree beings. Or in the mountains. Or in my canoe on the river. Prayer in this kind of place needs no words — it is enough simply to be there. Though a word of thanks never hurts.
In about 30 minutes, I arrived at the clearing. Pausing for a few minutes to say Thank You, I was startled by an explosion from the red maple across from me. Pow! Then again: Pow! Pow! In the dim light, I could see huge projectiles launching from the treetops into the sky.
It startles me every time. Turkeys! It is amazing to see such large birds — a male can weigh up to 25 or 30 pounds — flying to and from the trees. Fantastic!
It was as though the turkeys were echoing Psalm 148 that we sang at Church of the Woods on Sunday, for Easter.
… Praise God, sun and moon;
praise God, all you shining stars!
Praise God, you highest heavens,
and you waters above the heavens! …
Praise the Lord from the earth,
you sea monsters and all deeps,
fire and hail, snow and frost,
stormy wind fulfilling God’s command!
Mountains and all hills,
fruit trees and all cedars!
Wild animals and all cattle,
creeping things and flying birds! …
When I go out into the woods, this is all that is really needed — to sing the praises of this glorious, magnificent world. And to give thanks — which is where words do come in handy.