The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge. They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them. Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. (Psalm 19:1-4)
Every aspect of the created world is filled with the glory of God. The great theologians have cited the beauty and order of the world as the first sign by which we see traces of God’s goodness and love. The Apostle Paul says as much in the opening chapter of Romans. Creation speaks of God’s goodness and reveals his glory through vivid colors and scents. God could have made the world devoid of beauty, but he chose to fill it with wonder. The sunsets and sunrises are living paintings that happen twice a day and yet often we are too busy to look. Withdrawing into the nature removes us from the ordinary distractions of our days and reminds us of how small we are and yet, as the Psalmist notes, how profoundly loved we are.
When Jesus would retreat into solitude, he did not seek the anonymity of the city crowds, but chose the solace of the wild. When we allow ourselves the time and space to open ourselves to God in nature—be it by walking along the beach or a High Sierra trail—we are reminded that we are not the center of the universe and that our concerns, though great, are but a small piece of a vast cosmos. Go outside. What does the nature of the wilderness tell us about a God who refuses to fit into our neat, fixed categories? Look up at the night sky and try to count their number. God knows each of them by name and he knows you. The same power that spoke them into existence calls you beloved.
SPIRITUAL PRACTICE: Prayer walk
The Carmelite mystic, St. John of the Cross, instructed his disciples to engage in their devotions in a place where they could look out on the open sky and see the flowing plains, feel the wind and hear song of birds and to call upon the beauty of these things to praise the Creator.
Find 30 minutes that you can spend in solitude with God outside. Leave your phone behind and become absorbed in creation. Notice the signs of God’s presence around you. Observe the color of the birds, the symmetry of the leaves—see God as an artist and become a student of his work.