These days we are focusing on creation and on our responsibility to be caretakers of our beautiful home planet. Recently I reread my book “Voices: Messages in Gospel Symbols” and realized that its introduction would be a fitting post to share. So here it is . . .
“I said to the almond tree, ‘Sister, speak to me of God.’ And the almond tree blossomed.” ~ Nikos Kazantzakis
Creators are mirrored in their creations. A song reflects the composer; a painting, the artist; a book the author. In the same way, the universe, the masterpiece of the supreme creator, reveals God. Its variety, its intricacy, and its magnitude attest to God’s wisdom and power. Every created thing is an epiphany, echoing some aspect of the divine Being.
To behold a snow-topped mountain, its massive rocky slopes jutting boldly into the sky, is to know God’s majesty. To sit at the foot of a waterfall and watch its refreshing rush of water cascade into a clear, deep pool is to see God purity. To stroll through woods of lovely ferns, mosses, and lofty trees is to be enveloped with the peace and serenity of God. The fragile daisy with its velvety white petals and bright yellow center tells of the Creator’s gentleness while the shimmering, iridescent rainbow arched across purple-gray clouds bespeaks his beauty. A newborn baby is evidence of God’s tenderness. Fire is a reminder of the energy of God’s love. A monkey shows God’s sense of humor, and a giraffe, his unpredictability.
The psalmist is attuned to the speechless voices of the universe. He sings of the stars in Psalm 19:1–4:
the vault of heaven proclaims his handiwork;
day discourses of it to day,
night to night hands on the knowledge.
No utterance at all, no speech,
no sound that anyone an hear;
Yet their voice goes out through all the earth
and their message to the ends of the world.
St. Gregory of Nazianzus states in a hymn:
All things proclaim you—
things that can speak, things that can not.
a silent hymn of your own composing.
In the same tradition, St. Francis of Assisi the lover of nature, exclaims in his “Canticle of the Sun”:
Praise be to Thee, my Lord, with all Thy creatures.
Especially to my brother sun,
Who brings us the day and through him Thou dost brightness give;
And beautiful is he and radiant with splendor great,
Of Thee, Most High, he speaks.
More recently, the writings of the French theologian and philosopher Teilhard de Chardin, S.J., the notion of the creation manifesting the Creator is a mighty refrain, especially in “The Divine Milieu”: “…the great mystery of Christianity is not exactly the appearance, but the transparence, of God in the universe.”
Things are important to us. Partly spiritual, partly material beings, we live and work out our destiny in the realm of matter. How we use it and abuse it determines our eternity. We are free to expend and ravage the material universe for our own power and pleasure, or we can share it. We can let it go to ruin or we can show concern for it. We can regard the world as the lucky result of a coincidental combination of chemicals eons ago, or we can cherish it as the love-gift of a personal God who cares about us. The latter point of view opens for us the possibility of finding in material objects a source of prayer.
When the Word became flesh and lived with us among color, hardness, roughness, scent, and warmth, the Son of God reveled in the things of earth, the handiwork of the Father. Jesus saw that they were good, so good that he redeemed them along with us at the price of his life. Furthermore, he assigned them prominent roles in the act of redemption. During his pubic life, Jesus used concrete objects to teach. His audiovisuals were the birds of the air, the bread the women baked, the Temple in Jerusalem, and the roadside fig tree. Today, from the dimension where he dwells, Jesus reaches out in the sacraments and touches us with things: water, bread, wine, and oil. Matter has been christened by his presence.
**** Don’t miss the video below. It’s bound to touch your heart!
What in nature do you particularly cherish?
Where on Earth do you find it easy to hear God speaking to you?