“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of God’s hands.” Psalm 19: 1
‘I love the implications—that if this beautiful world, within this incredible universe, has a Creator, then this Creator takes their time—their deepest time—within it all. They don’t sit aloof upon a throne above in judgement; neither do they live exclusively ‘in our heart’, squeezed from every other public space by rational knowledge. Instead, God is the One whom we live and move and have our being. Creation is happening, still, because God is happening.
And while a tree is not God, God’s DNA is in the tree, and in the birds that rest within it, and in the clouds above it, and in the earth below it, and in the person resting against its trunk, savouring some moments of divine reconnection…
What a privilege! Our human ability to reflect consciously and connect spiritually, soulfully, while resting against a tree, for example, or swimming in the sea, or skiing down a mountainside, is unique in the (known) universe, and an incredibly recent plot development within the story of deep time, too. Yet it’s surely a crucial part of that story. We’re invited to awaken, to open our blinking eyes to the dawning light, to breathe the air and stand up straight and bear witness to this miraculous context in which we find ourselves. To smell, taste, see, hear, feel our way deeper into the mysteries and wonders of life itself.
As the eco-theologian Thomas Berry puts it in ‘Evening Thoughts’, ‘Within the universe, the planet Earth, with all its wonder, is the place for the meeting of the divine and the human.’’
(Extract from Soulful Nature: A Spiritual Field Guide by Brian Draper and Howard Green)
This Celebration Sunday, we are inviting you to:
Get out into nature!
This past summer whilst living in Oxford, I was introduced to wild water swimming. My housemate, who regularly went swimming in the meadow nearby, had been trying to convince me for months to join her and eventually one hot day in August I decided I would. The meadow was less than a five-minute walk from our house and the River Thames ran right through it. So we grabbed our towels and made our way down to the river.
Swimming in the river was such a wonderfully liberating experience! As I waded through the lake and looked around at the meadow with its grassy banks, trees, animals and wild flowers, I felt such joy. I was in nature and surrounded by nature. All I could see was nature: no houses, no cars, nothing manmade, just pure nature! And all of it proclaiming the work of God’s hands. In those moments I felt a strong sense of peace and closeness to God. In being surrounded by nature, it reminded me of how I am surrounded by God!
This Sunday we want to invite you to get out and embrace nature. It might be too cold for wild water swimming, but why not go for a walk, run or a cycle in your local park? You could maybe gather with some friends and go on a prayer walk. Or why not wrap up warm and find somewhere to watch the sunset in the afternoon, or find a field where you can sit and have a picnic? And as you get out into nature we want to invite you soak it in, let its wonder and beauty fill your heart and point you towards the creator of the universe.
Only got a minute? As you go on with your day this Sunday, why not take some time to purposefully acknowledge the nature that you pass? Do you notice anything you’ve not seen before? Why not take some time to celebrate and pray for creation that you pass.
Our Celebration Sunday reflections are written by Josie Horton. Josie is the intern for The Joint Public Issues Team. This is her first Living Lent. She will be committing to giving up single-use plastics.