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R&V In the Word: The Whole Earth in Autumn

Read Psalm 65

The whole earth is filled with awe at your wonders;

where morning dawns, where evening fades,

you call forth songs of joy.

You care for the land and water it;

you enrich it abundantly.

The streams of God are filled with water

to provide the people with grain,

 for so you have ordained it.

Psalm 65:8-9 NIV

Where I am this time of year, the whole earth is filled with falling leaves, falling temperatures, drooping hostas, and dying ferns. This season of abundant color and last fall harvests precedes the whole earth’s freeze and withering into dormancy; the whole earth is singing the last verse of its seasonal symphony. This time of year, the whole earth seems to celebrate letting go. Even the evergreens cycle through pine needles and drop a blanket of gold against our black asphalt driveway.

God embedded in the whole earth glimpses of his goodness, metaphors for his character, and here as autumn gives way to winter, the squirrel is storing its nuts for winter’s nourishment. The leaves coat the forest floor to be turned over by mushrooms and mycelium, by pill bugs and earthworms, into rich minerals from which new things will grow. But not before rest, which is good, which God modeled for us on the seventh day of creation, which God commanded and blessed, into which God invited all of humanity and all of creation, rest. Rest, Sabbath for a moment, find some peace and quiet in this wilderness of technology and shopping centers, put down some things the way nature does, so you can store up some energy for whatever new thing is to come.

Beyond the production cycle of dying and rebirth we witness in the forest, the whole earth is filled with things that have value just because they exist, for no other practical reason except, look, a wonderful and beautiful thing. See the chrysanthemums blooming in their myriad tints and hues. See the stunning variety of flint corn (or Indian corn), which have no reason to hold the whole spectrum of color, but do. See the warty gourds we grow and turn into birdhouses, jewelry, instruments, and beads. The whole earth is filled with beautiful things that are valuable because God made them and called them good, just as God made you and called you very good. Aren’t you in awe at these wonders? So many wonders. 

Even you, you are a wonder, too. Look how you’ve grown. Look how you’ve changed. Look how you’ve healed. What have you to let go? What have you to store up? What do you need to help you nestle into a new season? What can you take away from creation’s cycle of change this year? Isn’t it beautiful? Maybe beauty is enough.

The whole earth celebrates God’s wonders. The whole earth is filled with awe. The whole earth. 

Points of Reflection

  1. How can we echo David’s poetic adoration of God in Psalm 65 today? 
  2. How do you see God caring for the earth as described by David? 

For the Kids

  1. If God loves the earth and cares for it, and we’re made in God’s image, how should we treat the earth?
  2. What is your favorite thing about fall? Why? How do you see God in it?


David wrote so many psalms of praise and thanksgiving to God. From reflecting on creation, David created something that has endured for 2,500 years. Use your own creativity to capture the goodness of God you see during this season. Write a song, a poem, or a devotional. Journal what you see and how you see God in nature. Paint, draw, or photograph something that calls out to you as you explore nature, and then meditate on what drew you to it.

ReadingsThe Celtic church fathers and mothers have a lot to teach us about the sacredness of creation and our connection to it. In Sacred Earth, Sacred Soul: Celtic Wisdom for Reawakening to What Our Souls Know and Healing the World, John Philip Newell introduces readers to the wisdom of Celtic spirituality and how it can help heal the earth, overcome conflicts, and reconnect us to the sacredness of the earth and one another. These wisdom teachers echo the love letters of David to God about the goodness of creation and God’s wonders demonstrated there.

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