Last weekend, some wonderful folks and I made room in our schedules, minds, and hearts to retreat in the Santa Cruz mountains. It was a time of reprieve and refocus. I’ve led contemplative retreats in the past, but none like this. We had such an incredible time. It was especially meaningful to me for some reasons that will take months, if not longer, to process.
Being in nature is a real catalyst for spiritual intimacy. The surroundings of trees, shrubs, dirt, and a constantly varying sky is disarming. It helps Jesus’ emphasis on giving nature our attention make so much sense.
Have you ever noticed how often Jesus called people’s attention to the nature around them? I’ve heard it explained away as just being the result of him talking with farmers and fishermen, but I can’t help thinking that there’s more to Jesus’ communication. When Jesus says, “Consider the lilies of the field and the birds of the air,” I think he actually means, “Consider the lilies of the field and birds of the air.” It is so easy to take the things we regularly see for granted. People overlook their spouses all the time, let alone lilies and birds.
When was the last time you looked at nature as a depiction of God Himself?
From the beginning, creation in its magnificence enlightens us to His nature. Creation itself makes His undying power and divine identity clear, even though they are invisible.
– Romans 1.20
I don’t want to overlook God’s nature being magnificently and continuously depicted to me. If I'm numb to It in nature, I'll be numb to It in my neighbors, home, and own heart. I need eyes that see.
Ask the animals, now, and they shall teach you;
the birds of the sky, and they shall tell you.
Or speak to the earth, and it shall teach you.
The fish of the sea shall declare to you.
Who doesn’t know that in all these,
Yahweh’s hand has done this,
in whose hand is the life of every living thing,
and the breath of all mankind?
– Job 12:7-10