The Gospel of Nature

How has experiencing nature inspired you?  How has nature shaped your spiritual experience?

The Hebrew Psalmist captured it well:

“The heavens tell of your glory, O God,
and the earth proclaims your handiwork.
One day after another tells the story
and night after night reveals knowledge.
There is no speech, no word, no voice,
yet the message goes to all the world”    (Psalm 19a)

When I ask people to share a personal experience that they consider “spiritual,” they most often share an experience of nature.  As the Hebrew psalm attests, people have known for millennia that nature conveys a deep wisdom, a sure knowledge about life that is not only a source of awe, but also a source of deep connectedness.

Too often we think of spirituality and spiritual practice in terms of the right place:  a meditation room, a yoga studio, or a great cathedral.  Many people exert great effort to create spaces for prayer at home with candles, incense, and statues.  While there’s nothing wrong with this, we too often neglect or dismiss the practice of seeking wisdom through a spiritual connection with nature.

It’s nature that teaches us the cycle of life from birth to death to rebirth.  It’s nature that teaches us basic understandings of justice and fair play as the sun shines and the rain falls on both those living moral lives and those who seem morally challenged.  It’s nature that instructs us about beauty that can be found in both the daylight and the darkest night.

Just as indigenous peoples around the world understood the deep connection and unspeakable truths found in nature, such lessons were also apparent to our ancestors in Western religion.  Martin Luther understood this profound truth about nature: “God writes the Gospel not in the Bible alone, but also on trees, and in the flowers and clouds and stars”; and, “Our Lord has written the promise of resurrection, not in books alone, but in every leaf in springtime.”

By regularly experiencing the awe and wonder of nature, we develop a greater balance in our lives.  While in nature there is no speech or word or voice, there is a truly profound message.

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How can you spend time in nature, in ways that will help you embrace the graceful flow of life?  How do these experiences help you develop a greater sense of wholeness?

 

© 2016, emerging by Lou Kavar, Ph.D.. All rights reserved.

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