We are perched on the top of a mountain. I am sitting at a picnic table where I can overlook the valley below as the sun comes up -- a good place for Morning Prayer.
The antiphon I use most at Morning Prayer in the long months of ordinary time is this one: The earth is the Lord's, for He made it: Come, let us adore Him. Especially when I am reading it outside, or near an open window when the birds are singing in the half-dark. And especially today, here: the fields below us are several greens -- a piercing light one, a bluish dark one, a bright jewel one -- and the trees dot them like darker plumes. They delineate the fields, which you can see when you're as far above them as I am, marking out the quilt of cultivation and pasture, dividing land from land. The golden slant of the sun's rays as it rises creeps across the valley, turning the silver water of the lake golden and then leaving it behind, a rich blue.
One family owned this mountain, and the valley, too, I think. Now the Church owns it, and we can come here and live in this beauty for a day or two. All over the world you find these separate places, sacred places, kept for future generations of people in need of spiritual replenishment, needing to suck up some beauty to carry with us back into a world that can be an ugly place.
Make sure you get some time and find a place to lift your eyes to the world God has made and marvel at its beauty. If you are a pastor, make sure your people have an opportunity to do that this summer -- even if it's just a day trip by train to Jones Beach. If yours is a poor church, see if a rich one won't help you do this. The mountains, the sea, the trees -- we must experience how lovely it all is if we are to care enough to preserve it. The family that used to own this land didn't really own it, and the Church doesn't either. It all belongs to God, and it is given into our hands for our brief season on earth. Live in it at least once this summer, so that you do not forget it.
Where am I? Camp MItchell, in the Diocese of Arkansas.