Glory Be to God in small things

A few years ago, I began taking walks for my health. I walked slowly, because I wasn’t capable of any speed and, at any rate, I was in no hurry to get anywhere. These walks take me along the shore of the lake where I live, through meadows that form a greenbelt just above the retaining wall installed by the county to keep our suburban condos from falling into the reservoir.

tiny-grasshopper (c) Lisa A. Nicholas 2016Fortune landed me in this place after I lost my job (and my health). At first, I thought the area rather a dismal place to be stuck — on the outer edge of suburban sprawl, miles from anywhere I would prefer to be. Only when I began taking daily walks along the shore did I slowly realize that even here there were natural wonders to behold, many so tiny that I would have missed them if I had not been forced to amble oh-so-slowly.

After the first few walks, I began to carry my camera with me on my rambles, so that I could photograph each new insect, bird, or blossom that I noticed. When I return home and display these high-resolution images on my computer monitor, I am often astonished to see what the camera has captured: tiny flowers whose “petals” are themselves even tinier blossoms, grasshoppers hardly larger than a grain of rice, teeny-weeny flying creatures drinking the nectar of wildflowers. An immense world of tiny marvels is thus revealed to me.

Hidden glory

When we think of the glory of God reflected in His Creation, we often think of grandeur and immensity — towering mountains, oceanic depths, myriads of galaxies within an unthinkably large universe. But much of His glory is revealed in the tiniest of things — hidden in plain view, like those tiny grasshoppers. How often do we ignore this glory as we rush through our mundane lives?

There is a prayer which every Catholic knows –anyone who prays the Daily Office or the Rosary prays it several times each day – yet I wonder if any of us pay it much mind.

Glory be to the Father and to the Son

and  to the Holy Ghost;

As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be,

world  without end. Amen.

Or Latin:

Gloria Patri et Filio et Spiritui Sancto;
Sicut erat in principio, et nunc, et semper,
Et in saeculo saeculorum . Amen

So much beauty and truth are summed up in this little prayer. The mystery of the Holy Trinity, which is the love that made and sustains the universe. God’s glory, which is without beginning or end, eternally proclaimed by all Creation. We are told that all the Blessed shall spend eternity proclaiming the glory of the Lord, and we long for that endless day, yet I suspect few of us realize that when we give voice to this little prayer, the “Glory Be,” we are already participating in that unending song of praise.

The Gloria Patri is not prayed during the Mass (unless the Proper antiphons are chanted, in which case it is sung at the end of the introit), but every Sunday and Solemnity we offer a more expansive hymn to the glory of the Triune God, the Gloria in excelsis (“Glory be to God on High” or “Glory to God in the Highest”). It is fitting that during the Eucharistic liturgy, which provides the “source and summit” of our faith, we should dwell upon God’s glory at greater length, yet I think we would do well to appreciate the opportunities outside the Mass to remind ourselves of the glory of God, each time we pray the Glory Be. When we do so, we remind ourselves that the Love that made and sustains all Creation is everywhere evident, constantly proclaimed by His Creatures.

He stoops from on high

God does not hesitate to hide His glory in small things. Is that not, in fact, what He did when He became Man? Indeed, all things are small compared to Him, yet He endows them with a beauty that speaks of His glory. The Gloria Patris may be a short and simple prayer, but it contains much that we should meditate upon.

I will leave you with one last indication of Divine glory concealed in the apparently insignificant. The following recording is the song of crickets — but crickets as, I think, only God hears them. Some genius thought to slow down their sound, in proportion of their lifespan to the span of a human life. At this speed, you will hear something that may well bring tears to your eyes. (I listen to this song whenever I am world-weary and need to be reminded of the glory of God, who made and sustains all things). Take the time to listen to this entire glorious song, which seems to me to proclaim:

The glory of the Lord, the glory of the Lord, the glory of the Lord!

Sounds best with headphones

This post originally appeared on the Common Prayers blog.
Author: L. A. Nicholas

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