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The deck at the back of our house is wet. I am grateful for the rain that gentled the heat of yesterday while we slept. Everything is still quiet – except the birds who must know that today is the beginning of a new week, a new moment for songs of praise. I feel like the sole witness to creation’s great, miraculous beauty as I read the refrain from Psalm 66: Let all the earth cry out to God with joy!

Some moments later, even the birds are quieting down in awe as Thomas Merton steps in from long ago with his own psalm at dawn just perfect for this holy sabbath day.

Today, Father, this blue sky lauds you. The delicate green and orange flowers of the tulip poplar tree praise you. The distant blue hills praise you, together with the sweet-smelling air that is full of brilliant light. The bickering flycatchers praise you with the lowing cattle and the quails that whistle over there. I too, Father, praise you with all these my brothers, and they give voice to my own heart and to my own silence. We are all one silence, and a diversity of voices. You have made us together, you have made us one and many, you have placed me here in the midst as witness, as awareness, and as joy.

(Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander, p. 177-178, excerpted in Thomas Merton – A Book of Hours edited by Kathleen Deignan)