This morning I sat by the open window in an old sweatshirt sipping a cup of coffee, and listening to the sounds of my neighborhood waking up. There were the usual traffic sounds from Hwy 92 and S 11th Street, of course, but there was so much more.
There were crickets playing their familiar symphony, reminding us all that summer weather is drawing to a close. There were bird chirps and squawks and caws and songs, reminding me of all the languages I do not yet understand. Dogs barked up the street and one barked in our living room. All while my spouse rattled around our kitchen before heading to work downstairs.
As I sat, my injured knee throbbed. My other knee felt sore from having to over-compensate for its injured companion, and my mind wound, round and around, all of the things I needed to remember to do today. Then the wind made its way through the leaves on the tree just outside my window, and a pudgy hummingbird happily sat at our feeder and drank from the syrupy goodness it held.
In Celtic Christianity there is an understanding that God is present in all living organisms. If this is true, as I believe it is, then I have to believe that the sounds of nature are God's constant call to each and every one of us. That, through Creation and all her sounds, God is cutting through the deafening sounds of modern living--our to do lists, our hurried commutes, our ever-present anxieties, and the fears we don't dare speak aloud--to reach deep into our crazy-making cycles and pull us back into communion with the Divine.
I wonder how many times we miss God's presence in this way? I wonder how many mornings we have rushed and run and hurried right past the outstretched hand of the Divine from the tip of a robin's wing or the buzz of a persistent fly? I wonder just how different our hearts might look if we allowed them to be led by rustling leaves and the pudgy little hummingbird? I wonder if their beat might sound a whole lot more like the heartbeat of God?
Listening to the heartbeat of God with you,
Rev. Melissa Sternhagen
Rev. Melissa Sternhagen was called as the pastor of St. Paul Congregational UCC in June of 2020. Prior to her call to St. Paul, Pr. Melissa worked as a hospice chaplain in the Ames, IA area, following pastorates at rural churches in Central Iowa and Southern Illinois. Pr. Melissa is a second-career pastor with a background in agribusiness and production & supply operations. She received her M.Div. from Eden Theological Seminary in St. Louis, MO, and holds a MA Ed. in Adult Education and Training, and a BA in Organizational Communications.