A group of us reflected this week on knowing God through creation and how it is leading us to a deeper and wider connection with everything that God has made. We did this in readiness for being open to what we are invited, even mandated, to do for the sake of the created world. We had planned to go on retreat to a nature preserve, but the weather (yes, even here in Southern California!) was cold, gloomy, and even though it wasn’t raining, the threats seems imminent. We huddled in my living room over hot drinks and coffeecake at first, shared times when the Holy One had seemed very present to us in nature–the sacred places, the “aha” moments, the times when out of doors, when the Spirit gobsmacked us with Mystery and Grace! Then we went into silence, with the choice to go outside, parkas, shawls and all, to encounter holiness! As we reassembled, the energy was palpable–the ornamental plum trees, the birds chirping, the bee, tracing his bee-like way through the blue flowers, and the spent camellia with a yellow leaf and abandoned twig making a collage for the focus of our contemplation and prayer–all had called us into love, wonder and praise for the Creator.
Then, as if we had not been bathed in praise already, as one of our number drove home, she was showered with a migration of a host of Painted Lady butterflies, on their way north. Another person encountered them farther on, and then another, and the next morning, as I sat in my living room, I watched them parade for over an hour on their appointed route to the north. Amazing!
Several traditions tell us that God is revealed to us both in sacred text and in nature. I felt that I had encountered the Holy in a number of ways in the created world. Certainly I observed the Beauty–of color, shape, variety, process, growth, texture. And I felt the way that Beauty–in all of it manifestations–activated and sharpened my senses, in the words of the hymn, “tuning my heart to sing God’s praise!” But, I also felt some of the teaching of God through nature in the metaphors it offered–the connected-ness of the vines, the cycle of rising and falling, blooming and dying. I found that John Calvin, Reformer and pastor had said, “As soon as we acknowledge God to be the supreme Architect, who has erected the beauteous fabric of the universe, our minds must necessarily be ravished with wonder at his infinite goodness, wisdom and power.” (cited in Easter Gospel, by Sam Hamilton-Poore).
So this week for Lent I am taking delight in God’s earth, as I walk, go places, peer out my windows, with two questions: 1) what am I seeing about the creativity of the Holy One? and 2) how am I being invited to steward this web of creation of which I am apart? Taking Delight! Indeed!