Through Cuddesdon soundscapes, Ollie Blease reflects on the miracle of creation in the Psalms.
For all the beasts of the forest are mine, the cattle upon a thousand hills. I know every bird of the mountains and the insect of the field is mine.
– Psalm 50:10-11
The heavens are yours; the earth also is yours; the world and all that is in it, you have founded them. The north and the south, you have created them.
– Psalm 89: 11-12a
Praise the LORD! Praise the LORD from the heavens; praise him in the heights! Praise him, all his angels; praise him, all his hosts! Praise him, sun and moon, praise him, all you shining stars! Praise him, you highest heavens, and you waters above the heavens! Let them praise the name of the LORD! For he commanded and they were created. And he established them forever and ever; he gave a decree, and it shall not pass away.
– Psalm 148:1-6O
I look up at your heavens, shaped by your fingers, at the moon and the stars you set firm – what are human beings that you spare a thought for them, or the child of Adam that you care for him?
– Psalm 8:3-4
Proximity to God is found in a myriad of ways: Eucharistic worship, scriptural devotion, and corporate prayer, for example. However, for many it is helpful to intentionally recall God’s work in creation around us.
This is especially easy at Cuddesdon, which is outside of the nearby city of Oxford, and is something of a rural idyll. I regularly walk around the surrounding fields and woodland, and feel a closeness to God when I spend time among that which God has created.
Recently I have begun to record the birds and the sounds of the life around us.
As something of a visual learner, I have loved seeing the images of the waveforms in the software, showing a graphical form of the sound transmitted from the birds and surrounding elements.
I find birdsong a glorious background to quiet prayer. It is easy to meet God in creation – nothing so complex or beautiful, or endlessly content, has been made with human hands as the blossom on the tree at the entrance to the college. When the writer of Psalm 8 asks “what are human beings that you spare a thought for them…?” I can’t help but ask the same when faced with the beauty of the landscape and creation of this place.
But I must accept that no matter how much we love our surrounds, the mystery and majesty of creation (including one another), God’s love is infinite in capacity and grace, and overshadows all. This is scary and beautiful, and I accept it as a river of hope amidst occasional uncertainty and seeming chaos.
Below are a few soundscapes of Cuddesdon, which I hope you will enjoy. Some of these are recorded by Lee Chantler, some by Nick Wells, and some by myself.