Looking and Seeing Prayer

Apr 19, 2010

Spring in Memphis is like a miles-long altar decorated for Easter Sunday. Azaleas, dogwoods, tulips, and redbuds are in full bloom in yards, on median strips and along the highway.

In a grouchy and sad mood earlier this week, I plopped down on a front porch chair and glared. At first it was the narrow-eyed, pinched stare of a malcontent. But as I let the creamy baby-bonnet blossoms of the azalea bush come into view, my glare softened. I noticed details of the blossoms: the five or six slender tendrils or filaments reaching like little fingers and the graceful handkerchief-weight petals.  Dozens of bumble bees hovered over the blossoms; one nestled down in the center of the bloom as if in an intoxicated sleep. I also noticed the whole baby-blanket array of flowers swaddling the bush.

I experienced what I call “eye awe.” My friend Page calls this “gazing prayer.” Either way it is worship without words. I get to look and see the magnificence and beauty of God’s creation. For a few moments, “the grandeur of God”* is more important than my sadness and my anger.

*from God’s Grandeur, Gerard Manley Hopkins, 1877

Sybil MacBeth ©2010