In-Sight: The Book of Nature

Jeannie and I recently completed a travel adventure with our pop-up camper and her Little Red Truck.  We still lacked ten states of the lower 48, so we used late July and much of August to complete the list.

We began with our 10th Anniversary “gramping” (grandparent camping) with family.  Zoe and Isaac were six and four when we began–now, 16 and 14.  We had a great week with them, Katrina, Chris, and “sweet baby James” at the KY Horse Park. Nothing compares to the blessedness our loved ones provide.

We then headed out to visit the last remaining states, including a brief trip into Canada for an additional blessing.  As with previous trips, the sights, sounds, people, and history combined to weave a tapestry of precious memories.

And as before, I was reminded what a great gift God gives us in “the book of nature.”  The older I get, the fewer categories I have, and the more connected I feel to all things. Breathing the fresh air day after day, and taking in experiences we will remember for the rest of our lives, the “creation volume” yielded one holy and fun chapter after another.

God waits for us in cathedrals and in the country–in devotional classics and breath-taking sunsets.  God uses nature to invite us into a broader spiritual life than we often find in our usual places and accustomed programs.  Stepping into a stream is an invigorating reminder that the Spirit never ceases to flow in our lives.  Looking into the stars at night brings Psalm 8 immediately to mind.

Soaking up two months of family, flora, and fauna is an exercise in detaching from things that can too easily distract us, making us worried and troubled about many things–too many things.  Reading the book of nature keeps our lives in the sacred context of cosmos, where we simultaneously  find humility, happiness, and hope.

It is in nature that we learn the difference between being involved in important things and being consumed by them. The soul is created to be invested, but not enslaved. There is a sacred breadth to existence, the narrowing of which causes us to confuse parts for the whole. The book of nature revives us by widening us.

About Steve Harper

Retired seminary professor, who taught for 32 years in the disciplines of Spiritual Formation and Wesley Studies. Author and co-author of 42 books. Also a retired Elder in The Florida Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church.
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2 Responses to In-Sight: The Book of Nature

  1. David Brazelton says:

    Very well said. I wish I had said it that way

  2. Tom Pope says:

    Thanks for sharing. It really makes me want to hit the road and travel.
    Tom Pope

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