Thomas Merton, Chief Yellow Lark and the Gifts of Sunrise and Sunset …

Oh, to be thankful for what we have and not rue what we do not have!  That is noble and worthy of the Vitruvian Man.

I wish I knew more about Chief Yellow Lark.  Many months ago, I learned the Sioux prayer whose translation is attributable to him.  Yet search as I might, I find nothing of substance about the author.  Even his images are accompanied by a question mark [?].  Whether he is real or not, and whether or not he penned the words is not important.  Today, they are part of my daily prayer litany.  Although I say the words every morning, they came rushing to me several evenings ago as I waited for darkness under a spectacular Arizona sunset.

Sunset in the Desert July 2011

“Make my eyes ever behold the red and purple sunsets,” Chief Yellow Lark wrote.  “Make my hands respect the things you have made … when life fades as the fading sunset, may my spirit come to you without shame.”  What a pure and simple plea to our God who creates life and hands it to us each day as a memorable gift, if only we will recognize it as such.

Nearly a century later, Trappist Monk Thomas Merton wrote these words in reference to God’s daily gift of sunrise.  They are included in his series of notes and opinions referred to as Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander:

“Sunrise is an event that calls forth solemn music in the very depths of man’s nature, as if one’s whole being had to attune itself to the cosmos and praise God for the new day, praise Him in the name of all the creatures that ever were or ever will be.

“I look at the rising sun and feel that now upon me falls the responsibility of seeing what all my ancestors have seen, in the Stone Age and even before it, praising god before me.  Whether or not they praised Him then, for themselves, they must praise Him now in me.  When the sun rises each one of us is summoned by the living and the dead to praise God.”

The hectic pace of contemporary life makes it too easy for us to overlook the extraordinary gifts that God bestows upon us every day.  In the original post to this blog, we stated that each man, woman and child should begin and end each day with a prayer of thanksgiving.  Look around you, you will find more to be thankful for than you will to complain about if only you will open your heart.  The Vitruvian Man appreciates the gifts bestowed upon him by his Creator.

In a Celtic way,

In the name of God who creates life, and of

Jesus who loves life, and

The Holy Spirit who gives fire to life …

May we forever be thankful for the blessings of

Heaven and Earth, Sea and Sky,

This day, now and forever.

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