I remember once standing in front of a field of flowers and just staring in rarely experienced awe. In reverent solitude, unique admiration, holy silence. I marveled at how bright the colors appeared — reds and yellows, oranges and lavenders, the contrast of the green stems and grass along with hues I couldn’t even name.
Before I realized it, I was thanking God — for the flowers, for the emotions, for the moment.
Have you ever looked at a flower, admired it whether stunningly beautiful or relatively dull and dying, and reflexively thanked God? Have you ever marveled at a sunrise or sunset, then thanked God for the sight? Have you ever seen an animal behaving like, well, whatever animal they are and simply smiled with gratitude at the variety of things?
You might have thanked God for all of those things. You might have felt God’s presence in nature and His many creations. And it’s only fitting we do that.
All of creation praises God every day.
How do animals and trees, flowers and mountains, thunderstorms and the sun and the stars possibly praise God when they have no voices, no will, no humanity? They purely obey God to the best of their abilities.
We too can praise God when we humbly imitate that kind of obedience.
“Be who you are,” said St. Francis de Sales, “and be that well.”
A flower was made with the ability to be beautiful, splash a little color into the world, smell nice. When you see a lovely rose, that flower is doing its job to the best of its ability. It is fulfilling the purpose for which it was created and thus praising God.
To be sure, not all flowers have that stunning beauty. If a plant doesn’t receive adequate water or if the soil isn’t rich enough, we can’t fault the plant for not producing abundantly. That plant fulfilled its purpose the best that it could.
If you see a sunset that isn’t memorably impressive, don’t blame the sun that your particular perspective on that particular day didn’t allow for your mind to be blown. The sun and landscape did the best it could that day. And God’s plan and desire were satisfied.
Sometimes, a million grains of wheat fall to the earth in a farmer’s field and grow to yield a record crop. Other times, the area experiences a drought and the yield is much lower. Either way, that grain always does the best that it could to praise God’s creative love.
The same can be true for you and me. If we do our best, given whatever abilities and circumstances we are experiencing, and we do that as our offering back to God in gratitude to Him for creating us, then we will satisfy His purpose. We will praise God.
We each have a purpose. In the letter to the Ephesians, St. Paul wrote that our God-given purpose is to “live for the praise of His glory.” His desire for us is to love Him in whatever way we can.
And the best way to do that is simply to obey Him.
We each have different skills and levels of intellect, are born into different circumstances and places, carry different crosses and face different types of joy and adversity. Still, we all have an ability to love God. We still have that purpose, a mission which we are to obey — just as a rose and a sunset obey God.
Flowers and trees are purely flowers and trees, nothing else. The sun and the moon and the stars are purely what they are and were made to be. Fish and monkeys, dogs and cats … thunder and lightning … rivers and mountains … they are purely what they are, obey their purpose the best they can and in that way give glory to God.
Hence, we witness the purity of heart that Jesus said would allow us to see God. That’s the only gift He wants from us: Our hearts. All of our hearts, to purely be what He made us to be: A praise of His glory.
We will be eternally grateful. We won’t be able to help ourselves.
Eisenbath is a parishioner at St. Cletus Parish in St. Charles.