"We learn to praise God not by paying compliments, but by paying attention."
One of the nice things about the location of the church is that I can walk to a number of restaurants for lunch. A group of them are only 15 minutes away, which means I can get in a 30 minute walk in the middle of the day. When I am out walking, I notice the nice landscaping someone has put in along the winding sidewalk. There are even some chrome sculptures beside the path. Most days the weather is nice and one of my great joys is noticing the sky. So much of my time is indoors in my office looking at screens and reading books -- or driving in my car. I am often so busy that I forget to pay attention to the world around me. But when I am out on a walk, the wide-open sky is there before me and it is pretty hard to ignore.
I re-tweeted the above quote from Frederick Buechner yesterday. I quote Buechner a lot, but I had never read these words before: The Bible encourages us to praise God. Sometimes I think we mistakenly believe that means we should spend our time complimenting God - almost as if God needed to have us build up his ego by reminding him how great he is. But, as Buechner tells us in the quote above, praise is not about "paying compliments" but "paying attention." Praise is what happens spontaneously when we notice a deep blue sky, the yellow flowers by the side of the road, or the smiling face of a young child hanging upside down from the playground equipment behind the church.
So I invite you to pay attention to your life. Pay attention to the world around you. Look up from your various screens and look out at God's creation. It will move you beyond artificial compliments to a genuine sense of awe and thanksgiving for the beauty of our world. And God gave it to us to enjoy and take care of. So, don't just pay compliments - pay attention!
Prayer for Today
Thank you, God, for the beauty of the earth and for the glory of the skies. Lord of all, to Thee we raise, this our hymn of grateful praise! Amen.