Though I have lived in Toronto for several years, I haven’t taken many opportunities to sit at the lakefront. Yesterday, I managed to get there–thanks to some friends. (This photo is proof!) It’s amazing how just an hour spent immersed in nature–whether on the beach, in the woods, or on a mountaintop –can transform one’s mood, outlook, and energy.
I especially notice this when I go on my annual retreat. Most years, I make a week-long silent retreat at our St. Thecla Retreat House in Billerica, Massachusetts. It’s become a treasured sanctuary where I can take some time to focus on my interior life–what’s happening inside of me–rather than seeking to respond to what’s happening in the world around me. Within a day or two of arriving at the retreat house, the leisurely walks though the woods or in the garden slow my pulse, brighten my outlook, and strengthen my ability to trust that “all will be well,” to quote Julian of Norwich.
Earlier, I was reflecting on the power of an artistic masterpiece to touch our souls directly, by engaging our emotions. Perhaps then, we can consider nature one of God’s masterpieces? And of course, being a divine masterpiece, its form and beauty are never static, but always being transformed.
Last year, in a lonely moment of my retreat where I was “stuck” in pondering my weaknesses rather than God’s marvelous working in my life, a chickadee kept me company on a walk. It followed me with acrobatic grace, doing its flawless stuntwork, chirping cheerfully, and coming within an arm’s length on a nearby branch. The closeness of that chickadee and the marvel of its existence reminded me that God is even closer…and my existence even more of a marvel.
Nature is definitely a way God communicates with me. By turn, I find nature’s design soothing and peaceful, its horizons beautifully majestic, its storms awe-full, its movements graceful. And nature’s seasons offer perspective into the “seasons” of my own life.
How does God “speak” to you through nature?