Having raced to the car, our kids had some time to fill while they waited for us to catch up. Arriving, I noticed a nearby van, thickly coated with dust and thoroughly inscribed with the words: “Care for the earth - plant seeds!” Clearly the work of our kids, I was unabashedly delighted…. with the work of their hands!
Much of the instruction our children received about God, especially in their earliest years, was through nature. We walked our yard tasting lemon balm, rose petals, & pine needles; examining and collecting rocks; watching trees swaying with uplifted arms to the music of the wind; pulling our chairs up to the show of a storm; reverently breaking open dead, dried up sand dollars to be astonished at the sophisticated artistry of our Creator!
The more attentive we were to the things of nature, the more we were drawn to the One who would choose to create beauty in hidden places. God must enjoy variety, color, adventure, flavor, discovery...He must notice little things.
Every kid knows the best books have captivating pictures. We have come to think of nature as the picture book for the scriptures. Nature helps us understand the scriptures better; the scriptures help us understand nature better; both together help us better know, experience, and love God.
In When Faith Becomes Sight, Beth and Dave Booram invite us (in chapter 10 - God’s Big Book), through the prompt of Psalm 19:1-4, to engage with God through nature in three ways.
Along with the psalmist, they suggest we first “look for the glory” (because the heavens declare the glory of the Creator).
And when you find glory, let yourself experience the weight of the wonder.
When was the last time you had your breath swept away by some spectacular sight?
Second, really “pay attention to God’s handiwork” (because the firmament proclaims the Handiwork of Love).
Perhaps even from where you are right now, you can let your gaze settle on a tree outside your window. Notice the trunk of that tree. You see that it is not just brown?...it is many shades of brown, mixed perhaps with shades of green or gray. Look more closely to see what is commonly missed.
Finally, now, “listen to the wordless, soundless message within nature” (because there is no speech...yet their music resounds through all the earth).
The earth spins in circles, trees sway, birds sing, flowers open.
How, in this moment, are you most drawn to respond to God?
Debra is a counselor and spiritual director who lives in Michigan with her husband and four children. She loves art, nature and close community as well as good books and music, tasty food, and shared stories. One of her highest joys is helping people experience the reality of the beautiful, good, true God, here and now in the midst of the muck.