While I do not like to project theological qualifications onto other people’s spiritual journeys, I do think that loving God’s creation is an integral, perhaps even essential, part of faith.
On sabbatical, I have tried to slow down enough to see the world and to experience God a little more directly. Last Thursday, as I was walking around Lake McKusick in Stillwater, I noticed that the more slowly I walked, the more I could hear the birdsong all around me. I actually did a mini-experiment. I would speed up my walking pace and then notice how aware I was of my surroundings. Then, I would slow down my pace and observe my connection to the world around me.
At the faster pace, I could not hear as many birds singing or see as many leaves dancing in the wind. It was only when I slowed down to a very meditative pace that I could sense the marvelous harmonies of wind and song and could see the sun shimmering on the rippled waters and the trees swaying in the brilliant blue sky.
In this small sensing experiment, I realized two things. First, the creation is alive with beauty and spirit like this all the time, and it is I who am missing it. I am sure I am not the only one, either. Second, I know that my connection to God feels a lot stronger and more real when I am paying close attention to God’s creation. It is easier to love God when I stop to really see and hear and touch the sacredness of the world all around me.
This morning, my devotion included this verse from Romans 1:20 “Ever since the creation of the world, God’s eternal power and divine nature, invisible though they are, have been understood and seen through the things God has made.” I think the Apostle Paul knew it, too. Slowing down enough to be really aware of the birds and trees is one of the most powerful ways to experience God’s presence.