Fr Rodney Kissinger, S.J

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Nature is constantly speaking to us in exclamation points about God. (Job 12:7-10; Ps. 19: A; Matt. 6: 26-31) Just as the white light of the sun, when passed through a glass prism, is refracted, broken up, into all the colors of the rainbow, so in a similar way, the infinite perfection of God, passed through the prism of creation, is refracted, broken up, into an infinite number of finite beings, each participating in a unique way in this divine perfection. From meditating on nature we can learn a lot about God, about ourselves and about our relationship with God.

First of all, like the fabled Robinson Crusoe, we can learn from these “footprints of God” in the universe, that there is a God. (Rom. 1:19-21) “The hills are mute but how they speak of God. There are tongues in trees, books in running brooks, sermons in stone and God in everything.” “I see his blood upon the rose and in the stars the glory of his eyes.” Wherever we are, we are standing on holy ground where every bush is burning and speaking to us as it did to Moses.

Nature tells us also that God loves us. Gifts are the language of love. Never has this language of gift-giving been spoken to me as God has spoken it to me. The sun, the moon, the stars, the sea, the mountains, the forests, the fish, the birds, the animals, the fresh air are not less a gift of God to me because others can also enjoy them. Not only does God give us all these gifts, He is also present in them, conserving them in existence and working in them. Isn’t it strange that we can use and enjoy all of these gifts and forget all about the Giver?

We can also learn that there is solidarity in creation. It is all of one piece, nothing exists alone. There are no “rugged individuals.” I am not a separate, self-autonomous outsider, this is my habitat. And as lord and steward of this creation we should preserve and protect it, especially the air we breathe, the water we drink and the land we live on.

Nature tells us also that reality is not static; there is a rhythm in creation. Night follows day, spring, summer, fall and winter follow each other, the ocean tides ebb and flow, the moon waxes and wanes, the sun rises and sets, plants are born, blossom and die only to come up again next year. There is also a rhythm in my own life. My life is like a sine curve, I am up on the crest and then down into the trough. How unnatural and foolish it is to expect to live on a constant high. How disastrous it is to use drugs and alcohol to maintain that high. And how ridiculous it is to be proud and arrogant when we are riding the crest and then be discouraged and fearful when we bottom out in the trough.

We can learn also from nature the awesomeness and power of God. Who has not been awed by hurricanes, earthquakes, lightning, thunder, tornadoes, floods and volcanoes? Who has not been overwhelmed by the vastness of the universe?

Nature reveals to us also the wisdom of God. Watch a spider spin its web. See how the bee builds a perfectly symmetrical cone in its hive regardless of its dimensions. Watch the purple martins perform their spectacular air shows. Who taught them the principles of aerodynamics?

And, perhaps most important of all, nature teaches us that I can give glory and praise to God simply by being, by being me. A tree gives glory to God by being a tree, this particular tree. A flower gives glory to God simply by being this particular flower. “The heavens proclaim the glory of God, and the firmament proclaims his handiwork. There is no speech, nor are there words, yet their voice goes out through all of the earth.” This lesson is most relevant for us who glory in achievement. And especially to all those who are reduced to inactivity and who feel that there lives are useless because they are no longer productive. We can exchange the apostolate of doing for the apostolate of being; of being me and being happy to be me. And in so doing, we can give great glory to God, a unique glory that has never been given before and will never be given again.

Nature speaks to us in exclamation points about God. Unfortunately, we live in an artificial, computerized, air-conditioned, concrete and steel environment which speaks in exclamation points about man. How great man is! He can build these towering skyscrapers, construct the superhighway of communication, and explore outer space and the depths of the oceans. But in all his greatness he cannot make a single blade of grass. “Poems are made by fools like me, but only God can make a tree.” Virtual reality is no match of the reality of nature. The city of man is no match for the city of God.

On our journey of faith we should stop periodically and smell the roses. We should stop, look and listen to the liturgy of creation and learn more about God, about ourselves and about our relationship with God.

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