When do we first encounter God in our lives? It is usually as a child when we have matured enough to be aware of our surroundings. For me, other than my mother reading bible stories to me, I first found God in nature. I may not have comprehended God’s presence fully because my little mind lacked the imagery and vocabulary of God but I sensed something supernatural in the buzz of a bumblebee or the way a maple key twirled down to the earth and there was something special about a fuzzy caterpillar crawling up the side of our apple tree. Nature can be a great teacher assisting us on our journey through life. Before the coming of Christ our ancestors fostered a special relationship with God through nature. God’s revelation through nature can help us see the sacredness of God that is always present in the natural world. The Church Father’s referred to this as the Gospel of Nature.
Whenever we look up into the night sky and see the silver moon we can easily think of the compassion and love of the Virgin Mary and how she comforts the wounded heart. Or seeing the three stars of Orion’s belt in the night sky, our thoughts can turn to the Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Ghost, One God in Three Divine Persons who created us in His own image. Gazing up at the seven stars of the big dipper, our thoughts turn to the seven virtues of Faith, Hope, Love, Prudence, Justice, Fortitude, Temperance that guide us in our life here on earth. In seeing the morning and evening star we are reminded that our journey in life is between birth and death. Symbolically our life begins in the east and progresses towards the west and the life that is lived between this dawn and sunset is our own life journey. Lying on the ground looking up into the night sky and if we are able to find the North Star, we would see all of the stars in the sky revolve around this pole star. This fixed star can symbolize Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today and tomorrow who is our unwavering guide in our life journey. All this imagery in the night sky can be seen as a natural revelation set there to proclaim God’s glory. It is there to speak to the soul of a Christian pilgrim. “There, peeping among the cloud-wrack above a dark tor high up in the mountains, Sam saw a white star twinkle for a while. The beauty of it smote his heart, as he looked up out of the forsaken land, and hope returned to him. For like a shaft, clear and cold, the thought pierced him that in the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty forever beyond its reach.” The Return of the King by J.R.R. Tolkien
The Unconditional Love of God which fashioned and orders the universe speaks to all living and non-living things. In understanding the universe as sacramental, there is no division between the natural and the supernatural world or the secular world and the sacred world. Reality is all spiritual. Every particle of the stars and planets, every ounce of ocean water, every grain of sand and every living creature on this planet and every planet that may have life belongs to God. Every created thing in the universe points back to their source. Because the universe was created out of love, it will image God, making it sacramental and a way for humans to participate in God’s creative love. Through specific sacraments of the church, God’s Grace is given to humanity. Through a more general sacramentality, God’s love is given to humanity through creation.
“The world as man’s food is not something “material” and limited to material functions, thus different from, and opposed to, the specifically “spiritual” functions by which man is related to God. All that exists is God’s gift to man, and it all exists to make God known to man, to make man’s life communion with God. It is divine love made food, made life for man. God blesses everything He creates, and, in biblical language, this means that He makes all creation the sign and means of His presence and wisdom, love and revelation: “O taste and see that the Lord is good.” Alexander Schmemann, For the Life of the World