Saturday, May 22, 2010

Beauty from Ashes (by Judy)

At the school where I work, I have worn many hats over 30 years, but one of my current jobs is the most fun – gardener and beekeeper. Any readers of this blog will see many entries on these subjects over time, for there is so much of God in nature, as there should be, since He is Creator as well as Lord.

This week, Carolyn and I traveled up to the Botanical Gardens in Cleveland, which was an inspirational experience. One of my favorite places there was the Children’s Garden, where they have taken old, undesirable throw-aways and recycled them as planters for lovely flowers. This model of reversing construction, taking materials that in the past were destined for landfills and creating something beautiful makes good sense, for it is socially responsible and sustainable – and it makes God sense, for it reminds me of some of my favorite verses in the Bible – verses that I have asked to have read at my funeral.

The verses appear in two places, and their location has offered ministers volumes of sermon material over time. The first place is in the Old Testament, in the magnificent book of Isaiah: "The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, because the Lord has anointed Me to preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; To comfort all who mourn, to console those who mourn in Zion, to give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; That they may be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified."

The second place is in the New Testament gospel of Luke, where after being tempted in the wilderness, Jesus quotes these words at his home synagogue in Nazareth. He opened the holy scroll, read the words, sat down, and said, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” Beauty from ashes – prophecy and fulfillment. Darkness and sin exchanged for hope, joy, grace, mercy, love. Do you see, gentle readers, why these words are funeral-worthy?!


  1. "You have turned my mourning into dancing, Lord
    Now my feet are filled with your praise
    You have clothed my spirit with a robe of joy
    You've cast my sorrow away." Steve Green knows!

    Thank you for reminding us that our God is the first and best RECYCLER!

  2. I love your blog! There is so much beauty in nature, but sadly many of us miss it because we do not look for God in everything. I think you would like St. Francis' Canticle of Brother Sun which he composed basically on his death bed. Here it is:

    Most High, all powerful, good Lord,
    Yours are the praises, the glory, the honor,
    and all blessing.

    To You alone, Most High, do they belong,
    and no man is worthy to mention Your name.

    Be praised, my Lord, through all your creatures,
    especially through my lord Brother Sun,
    who brings the day; and you give light through him.
    And he is beautiful and radiant in all his splendor!
    Of you, Most High, he bears the likeness.

    Praise be You, my Lord, through Sister Moon
    and the stars, in heaven you formed them
    clear and precious and beautiful.

    Praised be You, my Lord, through Brother Wind,
    and through the air, cloudy and serene,
    and every kind of weather through which
    You give sustenance to Your creatures.

    Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Water,
    which is very useful and humble and precious and chaste.

    Praised be You, my Lord, through Brother Fire,
    through whom you light the night and he is beautiful
    and playful and robust and strong.

    Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Mother Earth,
    who sustains us and governs us and who produces
    varied fruits with colored flowers and herbs.

    Praised be You, my Lord,
    through those who give pardon for Your love,
    and bear infirmity and tribulation.

    Blessed are those who endure in peace
    for by You, Most High, they shall be crowned.

    Praised be You, my Lord,
    through our Sister Bodily Death,
    from whom no living man can escape.

    Praise and bless my Lord,
    and give Him thanks
    and serve Him with great humility.


  3. That is just beautiful! What I love most is that we are one with nature, for we have our Creator in common, and we join all our brothers and sisters in worship and praise. Isaiah, where I turn so often, has many verses similar to this: "You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands."