Thomas Traherne 1637- 1674
(Poet and spiritual writer)
(New Revised Standard Version)
In Judah God is known,
his name is great in Israel.
His abode has been established in Salem,
his dwelling-place in Zion.
There he broke the flashing arrows,
the shield, the sword, and the weapons of war.
Glorious are you, more majestic
than the everlasting mountains.
I’m so grateful for being introduced to Thomas Traherne when I was invited to write this reflection. Traherne was buried on this day nearly 350 years ago. His poems were lost for 200 years before being published early in the 20th century.
I’d recommend getting to know some of them. There are many aspects to his writings but one is that he believed that man could do God no greater homage than to delight in his creation.
I would like to reflect on some verses from Traherne’s poem Walking.
And are not men than they more blind,
Who having eyes yet never find
The bliss in which they move;
Like statues dead
They up and down are carried
Yet never see nor love.
To walk is by a thought to go;
To move in spirit to and fro;
To mind the good we see;
To taste the sweet;
Observing all the things we meet
How choice and rich they be.
To note the beauty of the day,
And golden fields of corn survey;
Admire each pretty flow’r
With its sweet smell;
To praise their Maker, and to tell
The marks of his great pow’r.
Over this year I have rediscovered the joy of walking outside. To be aware of the things Traherne points out in his poem. To not be blind to what is around me.
I love being able to walk through countryside (we are blessed to be able to do this from our front door) drinking in the green of nature around me, taking deep breaths of fresh air, seeing the change in the seasons and observing wildlife. Recently a small hedgehog. In the summer, some seals off the coast of Wales. And in years past, majestic eagles rising above us in the Himalayas.
It arouses such rejoicing and thankfulness in me that God made this earth for us. The wonder of how everything works together, the variety and diversity of creation – look at butterflies – such creativity and richness and extravagance from the Creator.
So let’s try and stop regularly, look up and around, focus away from the daily grind and perceive God’s fingerprints all over nature. His glory is revealed in the colours of the autumn forests, the dawn chorus, and the glorious sunrises and sunsets we’ve recently been having. The heavens are telling the glory of God (a phrase from Psalm 19 that you can hear in Haydn’s Creation).
Let’s not be like the humans Traherne describes in his poem as being blind and “having eyes yet never find the bliss in which they move” and so “never see nor love”. Let us see and love today: nature and each other. Let’s “mind the good we see” and actively look for it today in nature, in our lives, in our fellow human beings.
I pray that whatever today looks like so far, you will have a moment to be aware of God’s presence and love with you and in you and in those around you.