Imagining a simple prayer – Look, See, Pray

Take something simple that you don’t usually spend a lot of time thinking about. Like, for example, this Austrian alpine thistle.


I’m fairly confident not many people take notice of thistles. Unless you sit on one- then you get the point. (Why do you think Austrians wear leather trousers?  I have a very nice pair of lederhosen- I’ll spare you a picture.)

Anyway, back to the photo. Look at it and let your imagination loose. Are you imagining an beautiful Alpine valley, cowbells tinkling, and bees buzzing round for nectar?

Perhaps childhood story memories of happy-go-lucky Winnie the Pooh and Eeyore the depressed donkey? Adventures where nothing really bad ever goes wrong, and the characters amble through with imaginary friends, and honey for tea.

Back to the photo. Focus on it more closely. Take note of the colours, shapes, textures; what would it be like to touch or sniff? Isn’t it amazing that the thistle has prickles to protect it from unwelcome attention or accidental damage- yet also has colour and scent to attract the insects who pollinate and thus ensure future thistles. Not so ordinary, is it.

It’s a story in itself. What will happen to it? Will it set seed, or end up being eaten? Will seeds survive the harsh cold of winter? Will there be thistles in the mountains next year?

Something as simple as a flowering plant can hold our attention- if we will give the time. That’s the challenge: making the time to appreciate beauty, wonder at nature, see the best in simple objects. Then using that simplicity to focus on God, the maker and designer of everything in creation. Who’d have thought a thistle could become a prayer?

“God saw all He had made: it was VERY good.”

Thank you, Lord, for the thistles and roses. For hills and trees, fields and sheep, blue sky and clouds. For sunsets, for rainbows, for birdsong. Thank You for Your amazing Love that will be with us today, tonight, tomorrow and beyond. Keep me holding a gift of simple faith, so when the world gets confusing I can find a way back to Your promise. Amen.


Photo and text (c) Richard Starling, 2018

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