I just finished writing an endorsement for a book that is built on the premise that there is divine presence in all of creation. This concept is scripture based, for we read in Jeremiah 23:24, “Do I not fill heaven and earth? says the Lord.” When the Son of God became incarnate, he united himself with creation and redeemed all of it.
Walking outside through nature or pondering one of God’s creatures, such as a flower, a tree, or an animal, can lead to an intimate encounter with the Creator. For your reflection, I offer the following quotations from a range of spiritual authorities:
“Let me seek the gift of silence, and poverty, and solitude, where everything I touch is turned into prayer: where the sky is my prayer the birds are my prayer the wind in the trees is my prayer, for God is in all.” Thomas Merton, Thoughts in Solitude
“By virtue of the Creation, and still more of the Incarnation, nothing here below is profane for those who know how to see.” Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, Divine Milieu
He also wrote:
“By means of all created things without exception, the divine assails us, penetrates us, and molds us. We imagined it as distant and inaccessble, whereas in fact we live steeped in its burning layers.”
“My book is the nature of created things and as often as I have a mind to read the words of God, it is at my hand.” St. Anthony, desert monk
“Sacred writings are bound into two volumes, that of creation and that of Holy Scripture.” St. Thomas Aquinas
“The natural world is the stage where the reign of God is enacted.” John Klassen, OSB
“Believe me, you will find more lessons in the woods than in books. Trees and stones will teach you what you cannot learn from masters.” St. Bernard of Clairvaux
And a poem from that Doctor of the Church St. Catherine of Siena:
It could be said that God’s foot is so vast
that this entire earth is but a
field on God’s
and all the forest in this world
came from the same root of just
a single hair
What then is not a sanctuary?
Where then can I not kneel
and pray at a shrine
made holy by God’s
For another Saint, Francis of Assisi, the world of nature was his church. Witness his “Canticle of the Sun” in which he claims elements of nature as his Brothers and Sisters.
Angela of Goligno, a 13th century Franciscan mystic, wrote: “In a vision I saw God’s wholeness and the wholeness of creation. In the sea, and also in everything beyond the sea in outer space, I saw nothing but God’s power and God’s presence. It was totally indescribable. My soul was overcome with wonder at everything. I shouted, ‘The world is pregnant with God!’ “
Recall Gerard Manly Hopkin’s poem “God’s Grandeur,” which begins, “The world is charged with the grandeur of God./It will flame out like shining from shook foil.”
Zen Buddhist monk Ikkyu wrote: “Every day, priests minutely examine the Law and endlessly chant complicated sutras. Before doing that, though, they should learn how to read the love letters sent by the wind and rain, the snow and moon.”
What is your favorite place on earth where you sense God’s presence? Mine has been our pine forest, where about 100 trees were planted close together. Now my apartment overlooks it.
What created thing draws your heart and mind to God?