LORD, you have done so many things!
You made them all so wisely!
The earth is full of your creations!
The skunk in our backyard was out this morning, early. And while I hope that eventually she will be a displaced homemaker, for today she is my neighbor. My backyard is her front stoop, her entry to the world from the abandoned groundhog den under my human neighbor’s garage.
All your creations wait for you
to give them their food on time.
We don’t know yet how many children she is feeding. I only know she seems harried, working late into her night and rising before the sun goes down. They are hungry and growing, and they are her responsibility.
When you give it to them, they gather it up;
when you open your hand, they are filled completely full!
Here in the house, Hoagie is up early, too, roused as I move from window to window to watch Mama Skunk. He is waiting for his breakfast, and he stands by the bag of kibble, a suitably gigantic bag for a big dog. He is also a portly dog, and his rations have been cut. He stands by the bag, hopeful. Maybe today there will be more. Maybe today!
But when you hide your face, they are terrified;
when you take away their breath,
they die and return to dust.
Not today, Hoagie. You are provided for, but still on a diet.
We’ve all felt like Hoagie, sometimes, wondering if there will be enough of God’s goodness to go around.
When you let loose your breath, they are created,
and you make the surface of the ground brand-new again.
I watch the skunk. She works so hard. Behind our house is the stump of an old silver maple. It had seven segments coming off one central trunk, each one a good-sized tree in its own right. I moved into the house in 1998, a few months after the big ice storm. When a powerful thunderstorm struck that August, big pieces of the tree came down, and in our small neighborhood, that meant they came down in other people’s yards, on other people’s garages. I had the tree cut down, but removing the stump, five feet in diameter, cost too much money. Fourteen years later, it is a rich feeding ground for Mama Skunk. She digs around it and under it before scooting under our gate.
I will sing to the LORD as long as I live;
I will sing praises to my God while I’m still alive.
(The italicized lines are Psalm 104:24, 27-30, 33 Common English Bible)