December 14, 2020 - Clockwork

Billy Collins, Poet Laureate of the United States (2001 to 2003), wrote an uplifting poem about watching the sun rise and the sun set. Called “Joy,” it was a simple paean to the beauty and wonder of the sun, not only in the sky above us but its movement through the cosmos, referring to it as a father taking his “family of planets for a ride through the Milky Way.”


He’s not the only one to have noticed. Almost three thousand year ago, marveling at the creation, another poet, King David, wrote in Psalm 19 that the “heavens declare the glory of God,” and they do so with such clarity that no matter where people live, or their language, the beauty of the creation spoke to them. “There is no speech nor language,” he wrote, “Where their voice is not heard.”


And while Billy Collins uses the imagery of a father with his family to depict the motion of the sun, David use the imagery of the sun “as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber.” Whatever specifically, in his culture, that meant, it was obviously something glorious and wonderful, something to marvel at. Indeed, thousands of years later, Billy Collins, admiring the marvel of it all, wrote: “What a brazen wonder to be alive on earth/ amid the clockwork of all this motion!”


The earth is spinning on its axis, orbiting—according to Kepler’s-Newton’s-Einstein’s laws—along with its sibling planets around the sun, which itself is careening through our Milky Way, and the Milky Way itself is barreling through the cosmos. It is, like the gears of a clock, which is why Billy Collins used the word “clockwork.”


While both poets focused on the creation, King David took it the crucial step further, giving glory of the Creator. Yes, we can marvel at the creation, but let’s never miss the real marvel of it all, and that is—the One who made it all.

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