Daily Meditation: January 12, 2021

by Melissa Fanning on January 12, 2021

When the poor and needy seek water, and there is none, and their tongue is parched with thirst, I the Lord will answer them, I the God of Israel will not forsake them. I will open rivers on the bare heights, and fountains in the midst of the valleys; I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water. I will put in the wilderness the cedar, the acacia, the myrtle, and the olive; I will set in the desert the cypress, the plane and the pine together, so that all may see and know, all may consider and understand, that the hand of the Lord has done this, the Holy One of Israel has created it.

- Isaiah 41:17-20

God’s wisdom is to know people’s physical and psychological needs; God’s grace is to use the power of nature to meet them. The Lord can take the most barren wilderness and make it a forest. There is little more refreshing to me than taking a stroll, meditating or quietly enjoying God’s creation just by being outside. A Biblical commentator notes that in this passage, “The crowning promise is that of spiritual support and refreshment through the dull and dreary time of the Captivity, during which Israel dwells as it were in a desert, without water, or shade, or the relief to the eye which is furnished by the greenery of trees and shrubs. God was able to make of this "wilderness a standing water, and water-springs of the dry ground" (Psalm 107:35), and he promises to do so ….”

Research on the value of exposure to nature has been termed “Ecopsychology”. The field seeks to develop and understand ways of expanding the emotional connection between individuals and the natural environment. A study of 20,000 people in England, reviewed by The Yale School of the Environment, found that two hours a week spent in nature (providing one feels safe outdoors) is substantially associated with reports of good health and psychological well-being. Other research discovered that people who live in “greener” urban areas are less likely to suffer from cardiovascular disease, obesity, diabetes, severe asthma, and mental distress.
We are so fortunate that New Orleans offers many opportunities to experience the natural world through our tree-lined streets, parks, the Lafitte Greenway and on and on. Many of us are lucky enough to view plants out of our windows and to enjoy gardens, whether at City Park, Longue Vue, or in our own backyards. Part of my intention for 2021 is to appreciate what is present. I hope that for myself and everyone, it’s always easy to find a spot to do exactly that.

Musical Reflection For the Beauty of the Earth - John Rutter

In bright light and dull darkness
In the energy of each day and the rest that comes with night
We remember the goodness of God.

In the heavens high above our heads
In waters that run deep around the world
We remember the goodness of God.

In solid land and flowing seas
In vivid flowers and fruit laden-trees
We remember the goodness of God.

In the rising and setting of the sun and the cycles of the seasons
In the patterns of the shining stars
We remember the goodness of God.

And God looked and saw all that he had made, and indeed it was very, very good.
In rest and reflection, in wonder and worship
We remember the goodness of God. Amen.

- From Creation Care Prayers of the Church of England, Environment Program