This is My Father’s World

Ahhh… today is the first of October. And in Canada, fall is beginning to show itself in full colour. With it, comes the sigh of satisfaction at a bountiful harvest, and the joys of quieter days. (We are going to ignore the fact that the weather can’t make up its mind and both snow and 30 degree celsius temperatures happen all in the same time frame — just work with me and my idealized vision of autumn, okay?!). I wasn’t sure what to muse about this week, and was going through the things that have been recently on my mind: Greta Thunberg and her fight for global change, aboriginal celebrations of strength, fall fairs, baked warm apples and pumpkin spice lattes, and for some reason, this old hymn popped into my head:

This Is My Father’s World (Lyrics)

This is my Father’s world,

And to my listening ears

All nature sings, and round me rings

The music of the spheres.

This is my Father’s world:

I rest me in the thought

Of rocks and trees, of skies and seas;

His hand the wonders wrought.

This is my Father’s world,

The birds their carols raise,

The morning light, the lily white,

Declare their maker’s praise.

This is my Father’s world,

He shines in all that’s fair;

In the rustling grass I hear him pass;

He speaks to me everywhere.

This is my Father’s world.

O let me ne’er forget

That though the wrong seems oft so strong,

God is the ruler yet.

This is my Father’s world:

Why should my heart be sad?

The Lord is King; let the heavens ring!

God reigns; let the earth be glad!

“This is My Father’s World”, was originally published, posthumously, by the author’s wife in 1901, in a book of his poems. Maltbie Davenport Babcock, was a New York minister who frequented the Niagara Escarpment and Lake Ontario, simply to marvel at “His Father’s World”. I think he was close enough to Canada to appreciate the true beauty displayed, especially during autumn. The popular hymn was adapted from Babcock’s poem by his friend and musician, Franklin Shepherd, in 1915. (The original poem contained 16 verses of 4 lines each).

I was reminded of the hymn back on my travels to Wolfville, Nova Scotia this summer, (you can read about that adventure here) and discovered it is also themed in the Lord of the Rings Trilogy. As the camera pans the rolling hills of the Shire and all the familiar simplicity of a hobbit’s homelife, we are reminded that despite this era of evil, this is My Father’s World.

So, as our sunflowers begin to droop from faces ladened with seeds, as the leaves change colour and eventually die, as fall mums and ripe apples display their ruby redness against a backdrop of golden hues, I hope you relish the thought that this is my Father’s world. Perhaps you’re off to drown your troubles in a quiet coffee shop with a “grande PSL”. I’m here to remind you: That though the wrong seems oft so strong,
God is the Ruler yet. Happy first of October, my beloveds!

Wind Beneath My Wings

road trip musingOur wayward firstborn was recently home from University for reading week.  It was lovely to have her, even though we have already given away her room to her younger brother.  She had to put up with the basement.  Nonetheless, on my trip to pick her up, the GPS app on my phone took me through some winding country roads.   I’ve made this two hour trip hundreds of times before, but for some reason that day, I was relying on my phone to pull me out of the back roads and get me to somewhere more familiar.  I seemed to be wandering in farmland for way too long… I began to pray that the power wouldn’t totally seep out of the phone before I arrived.  I was lucky — all of a sudden I came upon civilization and breathed again.

It was a dull day when I made that drive all on my own.  The skies were overcast and the wind was whipping around as rain threatened the skies but didn’t appear.  At two different stretches of highway, we seemed to have a “leaf storm”.  The leaves blew around the vehicle in great swirls and gusts as if they were snowflakes driven by winter winds led by Jack Frost himself.  It was quite unusual, really.  Yellow leaves mostly, from the ash trees of the area.  Twice I seemed to be the only one on the back roads, engulfed in this inferno of flying leaves.  Like something out of the Wizard of Oz.  I was not in Kansas anymore.  Or anywhere I was familiar with either, for that matter.

When the leaf storms subsided, I took note of the fields surrounding me.  I was taking the opportunity to reflect a little as the two hours of peace and quiet was a welcomed rest for my busy soul.  (And truth be told,  I was trying to figure out where the heck I was with respect to my final destination!)  The farmers fields were a dull yellow… dry corn husks left to be plowed under soon.  Flat, drab, and lifeless,  surrounded by the autumn forests of reds, greens, and browns.  Houses dotted the perfectly paved roads.  Nothing of great note.  Except for two black silhouettes on the horizon.wind beneath my wings

At two different points on my drive, I witnessed two giant birds soaring in the wind.  They were probably hawks or falcons.  Maybe one was an osprey — we often see their giant nests atop telephone poles in the area.  The first one I noticed seemed to be gliding effortlessly through the field.  Guided along with the wind beneath its wings… seemingly without a care in the world.  The other was also majestically soaring — but swooped up and down almost as if it was having fun in the windstorm!  Have you ever stuck your arm out the window of a moving car?  Okay… not recommending it … not safe…. don’t do this at home… blah blah… But if you ever have… you will know the feeling of the wind beneath your “wings”.  That pressure that pushes you back but encourages you forward… and you dip and rise your hand like in the commercials of pretty girls in convertibles advertising some vacation spot in sunny Aruba.

It struck me, as I watched this big bird for the brief few seconds as I drove past, that this is what Isaiah was talking about when he says that those whose hope is in the Lord, will renew their strength and soar on wings like eagles!  (Isaiah 40).  This big bird was dipping and diving and seemed to actually be having fun in the wind!  So often we get caught up in our daily grinds of work, ministry, kids, etc., and life seems to be taking us on the winding back roads.  We get overwhelmed by the “leaf storms” that blow our way and get confused by our whereabouts in what should be the familiar.  We get tired.  Yet, God is so much bigger than we can even imagine.   He becomes the wind beneath our wings.  Then we are carried and soar.  Dipping and diving as our strength is renewed yet again.soar like eagles

Apparently there are 4 different species of eagles in Palestine.  It’s no wonder that the bible authors make reference to their power, might and majesty, and uses them as our example for the never tiring Lord who renews our strength.  I’m pretty sure my birds were not eagles, but big birds nonetheless.   Even the Bette Midler song from way back, makes the bible reference of soaring eagles.  Who is your hero today?  Who is the wind beneath your wings when your strength is failing?  Rest well in knowing that God is big enough to carry you through the storms and uncertainties.   Enjoy the dips and dives as you swoop through the dull fields of leftovers.  May He be the wind beneath your wings!