Spring is the time of rebirth. I love the variations of green. The lime green of the new leaves and the turning to a deeper green as they mature. It is a wonderful time to be outside with the moderate temperatures. It seems as if creation is inviting us to come outside and participate in the gift that God has given.
Scripture speaks of creation crying out in praise of God. Jesus responds to the Pharisees shushing the disciples on the triumphal entry, “If they cease, the rocks will cry out.” (Luke 19:40). The psalmist speaks of creation joining in the praise of God.
1 Praise the Lord.
Praise the Lord from the heavens;
praise him in the heights above.
2 Praise him, all his angels;
praise him, all his heavenly hosts.
3 Praise him, sun and moon;
praise him, all you shining stars.
4 Praise him, you highest heavens
and you waters above the skies.
5 Let them praise the name of the Lord,
for at his command they were created,
6 and he established them for ever and ever—
he issued a decree that will never pass away.
7 Praise the Lord from the earth,
you great sea creatures and all ocean depths,
8 lightning and hail, snow and clouds,
stormy winds that do his bidding,
9 you mountains and all hills,
fruit trees and all cedars,
10 wild animals and all cattle,
small creatures and flying birds,
11 kings of the earth and all nations,
you princes and all rulers on earth,
12 young men and women,
old men and children.
13 Let them praise the name of the Lord,
for his name alone is exalted;
his splendor is above the earth and the heavens.
14 And he has raised up for his people a horn,
the praise of all his faithful servants,
of Israel, the people close to his heart.
Praise the Lord. (Psalm 148)
I love this personification of creation. It does indeed speak of God and for God. It is a way that the person of God is revealed.
From the time I was small, creation has been soul food for me. I love each season and the manner in which they reveal God’s creativity. But it goes deeper than that. There is something about being immersed in nature and away from manmade structures that serves as a thin place—where the veil between heaven and earth is thin.
Each year I go on an eight-day silent retreat. Most of the time that I’m awake, I’m outside—walking, sitting, kayaking. It is how I best listen to God. Sometimes there is a great epiphany, but most often, I am just cognizant of God’s love. There are times when God challenges me to remember who it is I am created to be and to live more fully into that reality. Or God encourages me to let go of control and remember again that God is God and I am not. Creation speaks into these messages. Sometimes it is creation itself and at other times, it is the sense of calm I feel that allows me to listen. The stress seems to dissipate as I participate in God’s creativity.
And when I am listening, there are other messages. At times God reminds me of my value. I watch the birds and the words of Jesus come to mind, “look at the birds of the air, they neither reap nor sow…yet your heavenly Father feeds them.” The world—my job, my friends, my family, my culture—may say I am worthless or inadequate, yet God cares for me. Or, I might recognize the design behind creation. Nothing is wasted. Even the mosquitos, yes, even them, are food for the bats and the birds. It tells me that God was intentional in my design–“You were knit together in your mother’s womb.” (Psalm 139:13) God has created me for a purpose.
In a time of pain and suffering, I am reminded that God is the healer and restorer. I see the way nature heals following a natural disaster or storm. When I lived in Montana as a child, we feared the possibility of forest fires, but also recognized that they were necessary for cleaning out the diseased plants and trees and allowing for new and strong life to grow. We learned that our interference in removing something “bad,” upset the ecological balance. For instance, the wolf population was destroyed in the early 1900s. The ecosystem suffered as the elk and deer destroyed much of the vegetation. With the reintroduction of wolves to Yellowstone Park in 1995, there is a restoration of animals, vegetation, and even the banks of the rivers. God’s design is good. God is faithful. Or, God might speak to us in times of suffering is when I sense God’s presence in creation. I may feel the comfort of God through the dreariness of a rainy day. The rain and clouds may be indicative of God weeping with me. The grey and heaviness of the day feels like an embrace. Or it may feel heavy, but then the sun bursts through the clouds and I realize that life goes on.
Of course, we are not always open to these thoughts, but I want to encourage you to open the eyes and ears of your heart to what God may be communicating in creation. The message is unique to each of us. We are all in different places and in need of different communication and God knows us intimately. If we are willing and allow the space to listen, God’s voice surrounds us. Creation invites us to participate!
Grace and peace to you,