Courtesy of KTinOhio, my fellow AUC'er

Kenneth G. Phifer

How beautiful is our world, O Lord,
and how marvelous are your ways in it.
You draw splendor out of the barrenness of winter.
You create magnificence amid the starkness and desolation
of cold rains and morning fogs.
You make hearts to sing
long after the angel hosts have gone
and left the skies empty and silent.
You place dabs of riotous color
amid the drabness of desert places.

You come into my plain life and make it shine –
when I let you.
My problem lies here so often –
in the letting.
For I am grim and stubborn sometimes.
I refuse to believe that you are here.
I slam doors and lock windows and brood alone.
I think upon the barrenness,
ponder the desolation,
enjoy the drabness.
It gives me something to complain about.
It enables me to ask, “Where is God?
Look at me, deserted and bereft.”
O God, forgive me
for I know now what I do when I shut you out:
I turn sour within.
I find I cannot love my neighbor or accept myself.
I sink into self-pity
and contemplate the ways in which life has abused me.

You know that there is ugliness
as well as beauty in our world.
You know that winter comes to the heart
as well as to the world of nature.
You know that I must live with the oak trees stripped of leaves
and the magnolias bare of blossoms.
You know about the cold rains
and the winter fogs that fall upon my spirit.
But you are here.
Help me to hang on when hanging on is hard.
Help me to remember
the rhythm of life is often like the rhythm of the seasons.
Camellias will bloom once more,
roses will be back,
the jasmine will scent the night air,
And spring will come.
How can I doubt it?

Draw splendor out of me.
Color my life red and gold.
Make my spirit sing and my feet dance.
Guide me through the cold rain and the morning fog.
Let me love the many faces of your world
and not be afraid of that which is strange and new.
Let me love in order that I may truly live,
and live in order that I may love.


From A Book Of Uncommon Prayer, 1981, pp. 94-95. At the time the book was published, the author was senior minister of the St. Charles Avenue Presbyterian Church in New Orleans.

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