‘In Praise of’ is a new series and blog on the Sustainable Traditions website where we cultivate the practice of thankfulness and the practical outworking of the Apostle Paul’s encouragement in his ancient letter to Christians in Philippi: “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.” (Philippians 4:8). Today, in our media driven and internet-connected age, it is easy to forget that, though there is much brokenness in our world, there is also the goodness of God’s gifts we experience every day. We cannot deny the brokenness in our lives and the world – but we can slow down and intentionally cultivate a focus on the Lord’s character and goodness as we recognize the abundance of blessings he showers on us. Stop and dwell with us on whatever is excellent and praiseworthy. The ‘In Praise of’ blog is open for submissions – we are looking for poetic prose capped off with an ending prayer. Not all submissions will be published but we encourage everyone to apply.



It is the later end of the early morning. Last night’s summer storm brought rain which still saturates the fields. Droplets sparkle on each blade of grass. The din of calling and unseen insects permeates the air. Droning or rhythmic, they sing a song – a prophecy of the coming heat of the day. Birds are silent this morning – maybe from the storm that came through. As I write this a bird proves me wrong by chirping and flittering by. One of the roosters begins to crow – and then crows again. There is no more iconic sound than the call at day’s beginning of the rooster calling – calling to wake up – calling to be aware – calling to embrace the day in it’s challenges and opportunities.

My mind is muddled – still burning through the cobwebs of a long night’s rest. I am climbing slowly up from sleep – working my way to being fully awake. I sort through scenes from my fading dreams – wondering if they hold any meaning or if they are just random firings of my soul as it digested the day. I look out the back door as I sit swiveling in my chair. White clouds spill out into a flat blue sky – patiently moving forward with the subtle encouragement of the wind. The sun stands guard behind trees and hill, pushing through, illuminating leaves and sending beams of light scattering out in undefined patterns that shift and move.

As the sun grows in strength, cicada song crescendos and recedes like the crashing waves of the ocean – a rhythm that will be unceasing throughout the hot day. The cat lies outside my door on the rough concrete. Her thick fur mottled with orange, white and brown. She extends her hind legs upward, eyes half closed for a morning nap as she basks in strips of sunlight. There is a sweetness of cut grass in the air as the heat of the day approaches in force.

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Thank you Father/Jesus/Holy Spirit for the witness of the morning. It calls forth our longing to be made new – to start again. How perfectly you have formed the rhythms of our days – earth’s movements so intricately aligned with our spirit, soul and body’s need for rest. Thank you for the pattern of night and day – that reminds us of our dependence on You and our continual need for renewal. I bask in the grace of morning light and give thanks for the gifts of earth and sun. Who can fathom your wisdom in all that You have created? We are sustained by Your continual love.

As I go through the day let me neither live in the future or the past but carry the burdens and share the gifts of only this day. Let my anxious heart be healed in the knowledge that You are trustworthy and that I have no need but to faithfully trust You.

J. Fowler

J. Fowler is the website editor and co-founder, along with his wife Pamela, of the Sustainable Traditions project. The Fowlers live with their seven children on a farm near the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia.

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