This morning, as I drove to my 8am class (that’s right, I teach a class at 8am on Saturday in the summer – groan with me, will you?), the sun was just coming up. It was a huge ball of orange in the sky, and it almost brought tears to my eyes. Here are the top ten natural things that remind me that God loves me.

10. Fireflies in the trees on summer nights. I can see why people came to believe in fairies.

9. The way the light hits the air at dusk. The term for this time is “the gloaming,” and that words seems perfect – a combination of glowing and loam, that soft , earthy substance that gives life.

8. Hawks by highways. These birds always remind me of the way that God watches over us. I always see them as signs of life and hope.

7. The ocean in winter. While I do not love the heat or crowds of summer beaches, I do love the briskness of the wind and grayness of the water of the Atlantic in the winter.

6. Sunrises and Sunsets. Every day, I am reminded of the fact that I get the chance to start over again, and that reminder is a spectacle of color. What a glorious thing.

5. Fat Babies. Most of the time we berate people for carrying extra weight, but babies with chubby cheeks or rolls of flesh are cuter. I love that.

4. Mountains. I love the Appalachians and the Rockies, each for different reasons. They speak to me of the majestic. Someday, I”ll see the Alps, the Andes, and the Himalayas; I expect “majestic” will take on a whole new meaning then.

3. Streams and Rivers. The sound of running water is one of most calming sounds I know. Perhaps it’s because I grew up in the Smoky Mountains where streams trickle down the hills like beautiful tears.

2. Ponds/Bays/Lakes. I find the smoothness of water fascinating. How can something so potentially turbid actually reflect the sky?

1. Wind. When I can feel a breeze lift the hair off my neck, when air caresses my face, when I hear the trees sing their rustle-ish song, then I know I am being sung to and held close.

What are your favorite natural delights? What do they show you about the world and about yourself?

Photo by Ken McDonald