Let All Things (Even Rocks?) Exalt the Lord!

“Let all creation, all works of God, bless the Lord,” the Psalms variously exhort.  Similarly, St. Francis invites earth and moon and flowers and fire (among a lot of other “things”) to join him in a song of praise to our God and King.  But, what does it mean for any “thing” short of a human to praise God?  What does it mean for, say, a rock or a flower to “bless the Lord”?

Morning Prayer at DivineOffice.org is a regular part of my morning devotion.  It regularly  features a reading or chanting of “The Canticle of  Daniel” (an apocryphal addition to Daniel, chapter 3…  also known as the Benedicite).   In part, it reads:

Bless the Lord, all you works of the Lord;
Praise and exalt Him above all forever.
Angels of the Lord bless the Lord.
You heavens, bless the Lord.
All you waters above the heavens, bless the Lord.
All you hosts of the Lord, Bless the Lord.
Sun and Moon, Bless the Lord.
Stars of heaven, bless the Lord.
Every shower and dew, bless the Lord.
All you winds, bless the Lord.
Fire and Heat, bless the Lord.
Cold and chill, bless the Lord.
Dew and rain, bless the Lord.
Frost and chill, bless the Lord.
Ice and Snow, bless the Lord
Nights and days, bless the Lord.
Light and darkness, bless the Lord
Lightings and clouds, bless the Lord…

You sons of men, bless the Lord.
O Israel, bless the Lord.
Praise and exalt Him above all forever.
Priests of the Lord, bless the Lord.
Servants of the Lord, bless the Lord.
Spirits and souls of the just, bless the Lord.
Holy men of humble heart, bless the Lord.
Hananiah, Azariah, Mishael, bless the Lord.
Praise and exalt Him above all forever.
Let us bless the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
Let us praise and exalt Him above all forever.
Blessed are you Lord, in the firmament of heaven.
Praiseworthy and glorious and exalted above all forever.

Morning walks with the Office have had me “chewing” on the Canticle.  Without any real engagement of the commentaries, I came first to recognize the connection between “bless,” “praise,” and “exalt.”  (That’s pretty easy to see – especially in the first lines of the Canticle: “Bless the Lord, all you works of the Lord; Praise and exalt Him above all forever.”  The sophisticates out there call it “parallelism.”  It is a fancy word which basically describes a repetition of thought in Hebrew poetry — repetition which serves to expand, clarify, and amplify an idea/concept.  So, here, “Bless the Lord” is fleshed out further: “praise and exalt” Him!)

Okay, that’s all fine.  But, the question still remains: what does it mean for chill and dew and stars and, by inference, a rock… what does it mean for these “things” to praise/exalt/bless the Lord?  I mean, they just “are.”

But here’s where my [uninformed] reflections took over.  Yes, rocks “just are.”  But, thereby and therein, they are exactly what God made/created them to be.  By their very nature, I ponder, a rock or fire or stars “bless/exalt/praise” the Lord — precisely because they are fulfilling their intended purpose.  They point to and promote/”lift up” God by fully living up to their design!  

We humans, however, have a choice of whether to live out of  our “calling”/design… or not.    For us humans, our giftedness is also our curse: freedom of choice!  We can choose to live up to the active and living Word of God which called (and calls) us into being… or we can choose to live up to any other number of lesser “words” and voices which call us and shame us and confuse us in this world – call and shame and confuse us about our ultimate purpose and design.

Reminds me of some journaling I was about a few years ago.  Contemplating Mary’s words, “let it be with me according to your word,” I wrote:

Drawing accompanying this journal entry.

 There are a lot of “little j” jims even as there are a lot of “little g” gods.  There is one “big J” Jim [Reiter] even as there is one “Big G” God. Beyond all lesser voices which seek to name and define me (including my own voice), I am a word from the mouth of God.  As God’s word is active and alive, when He says my name, “Jim [Reiter]!”, it shatters all lesser names and namings.  As when He says “Light!” and there is light [Gen. 1], even so: when He says “Jim!”, there is Jim [Reiter] in all Jim’s real fullness.

“Here I am, a servant of the Lord.  Let it be according to your word.”

I am humbled.  I am not “jim.”

I am hopeful.  I am “Jim”… and will be “Jim.”

I feel loved.  Oh, how patient the Divine is!

I have dread.  Oh, all that must die and be broken for “Jim” to be reborn and renewed and recollected!

And somewhere in it all (in this affirmation and my choosing this affirmation), there’s my blessing and exalting and praising God – not just with my lips but with my entire being/”doing”/existing!  Somewhere in it all, I join rocks and hills and stars and fire and dew… and all other creatures who do not have the choices I do.  BUT, as I choose to do so, all of us are now one in at least one very important way: pointing to a Creator who has made everything for a reason and is blessed when all things are, as Bill Hinson used to put it, “true to the grain of their being.”

Yes, Brothers and Sisters, bless, exalt and praise the Lord–
remembering who we are and being true to the grain of our Souls!

O Thou, Who names all things
and thereby calls them into full being…
O Divine, Who even has a Name for me
(above all lesser names and namings),
assist me,
not just in the hearing,
but in the acceptance of Your Naming–
to the honor and glory of Your Holy Name.
Let it be!

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