Seeing divinity all around us calls for a response. C. S. Lewis expressed it as follows: “Because God created the Natural – invented it out of his love and artistry – it demands our reverence.”
Henri Nouwen asked and answered: “How do we live in creation? Do we relate to it as a place full of ‘things’ we can use for whatever need we want to fulfil and whatever goal we wish to accomplish? Or do we see creation first of all as a sacramental reality, a sacred space where God reveals to us the immense beauty of the Divine? As long as we only use creation, we cannot recognize its sacredness because we are approaching it as if we are its owners. But when we relate to all that surrounds us as created by the same God who created us and as the place where God appears to us and calls us to worship and adoration, then we are able to recognize the sacred quality of all God’s handiwork.”
Dean Ohlman, Christian writer and advocate for environmental responsibility, challenges us: “Creation speaks of the Creator. Are you listening? When you are faced with the grandeur, power, and beauty of creation, does your vision linger there or do you follow the sign to the object? Are you nearsighted, focusing solely on the beauty in front of you instead of on the God behind the beauty? And when you do see Him, how do you respond? Consider Psalm 104: After writing 32 verses celebrating the work of our Creator, the psalmist gives us his response: ‘I will sing to the Lord as long as I live; I will sing praise to my God while I have my being. May my meditation be sweet to Him; I will be glad in the Lord.’ (Psalm 104:33).”
German theologian Jürgen Moltmann sums it up: “For centuries, men and women have tried to under-stand God’s creation as nature, so that they can exploit it in accordance with the laws science has discovered. Today the essential point is to understand this knowable, controllable, and usable nature as God’s creation, and to learn to respect it as such.”
Our often insensitive and utilitarian approach to the natural world is a result of the loss of a theology of beauty – the recognition that the beauty in the natural world is one of the most important evidences of God’s divine nature.
Nineteenth century American statesman George Bancroft expressed it like this: “Beauty is but the sensible image of the Infinite. Like truth and justice it lives within us; like virtue and the moral law it is a companion of the soul.”
Naturalist, writer and conservationist John Muir believed that “everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in where nature may heal and cheer and give strength to body and soul alike.”
The value of natural beauty to the human soul was what inspired the masterful landscape painter Thomas Cole, founder of the Hudson River School of painting. With his paintings he wanted to put people back in touch with the Creator. He hoped his paintings would give city-dwelling admirers a yearning for the outdoors where they too could discover what he had – that “in gazing on the pure creations of the Almighty, [one] feels a calm religious tone steal through [the] mind, and when [one] has turned to mingle [again] with [one’s] fellow [humans], the chords which have been struck in that sweet communion cease not to vibrate.”
The unfathomable reality and divine purpose is far larger than our minds can surmise. But perhaps it can be imagined as a giant holograph wherein each part contains the whole. No matter into how many parts a holograph is subdivided, the same picture remains. After a great many cuts in half, the holograph begins to get a little fuzzy, as it loses some of its detail, but the entire picture is still there. The chapters in this book therefore take a deeper look at various everyday aspects of physical realities to see what can be glimpsed of the total picture. It then draws from what we see, based on the Bible, lessons for physical and spiritual life.
You are invited to come and read both the Book of God and the Word of God and see what treasures may be found there as far as God’s character and the divine plan for humanity. Try to break away and spend some time in nature – noticing the sunlight on the trees and flowers, the growth and unfolding of new leaves, the variety of creatures that cross your path. Take a fresh look at the sea and the dry land, the birds and the bees, the sky and clouds, as well as the starry heavens.
May such a new look at things we take for granted bring us to a sense of wonder, awe, and gratitude at the marvels around us. May we come to recognize the sacred and divine in all things and begin to feel at one with God and all of creation.
From: Divine Reflections in Times and Seasons by Eva Peck