To hear a silent creation, we must quiet ourselves. Nature reveals her depths to prepared souls.
In the words of the poet William Wordsworth,
Thanks to the human heart by which we live,
Thanks to its tenderness, its joys, and fears,
To me the meanest flower that blows can give
Thoughts that do often lie too deep for tears.
Why does creation have this effect on us? Why does it fascinate us so?
Because, as Jesuit poet Gerard Manley Hopkins writes, “The world is charged with the grandeur of God.”
The poet echoes the prophet:
“The whole earth is full of His glory.” – Isaiah 6:3c (NASB)
Wonderful news, the majesty of God infuses everything He has made!
Nature broadcasts God’s wisdom, but can we tune in?
The psalmist David recognizes this problem:
“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands. 2Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge. 3They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them. 4Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. In the heavens God has pitched a tent for the sun. 5It is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, like a champion rejoicing to run his course. 6It rises at one end of the heavens and makes its circuit to the other; nothing is deprived of its warmth.” – Psalm 19:1-6 (NIV)
Speech but no words, revelation without sound. How can we hear nature’s mute testimony?
By taking the advice of Jesus and becoming like children.
In A Book of Silence, 75, Sara Maitland says that “Most small children experience this sensation of profound joy randomly and apparently frequently.” To illustrate her point, she notes that “Wordsworth mourned its passing in his ‘Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood’ (1807):”
There was a time when meadow, grove and stream,
The earth, and every common sight
To me did seem
Apparelled in celestial light,
The glory and the freshness of a dream.
It is not now as it has been of your;–
Turn wheresoe’er I may,
By night or day,
The things which I have seen I now can see no more.
The rainbow comes and goes,
And lovely is the rose,
The Moon doth with delight
Look round her when the heavens are bare;
Waters on a starry night
Are beautiful and fair;
The sunshine is a glorious birth;
But yet I know, where’er I go,
That there hath passed away a glory from the earth.
When we’re caught up in the clamor of our culture, we have no attention to pay to the Lord. Distractions compete with His Word and His natural works. We’re deafened.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. When we still ourselves, created things become our teachers.
In his book, The Power of Silence: Against the Dictatorship of Noise, 197, Robert Cardinal Sarah admits that “God seems silent, but he reveals himself and speaks to us through the marvels of creation. It is enough to pay attention like a child to the splendors of nature. For nature speaks to us about God.”
What does it take to discern the wisdom, majesty, even the presence of God?
Episcopal priest Rob Lord says, “Wherever you turn your eyes, the world can shine like transfiguration. You don’t have to bring a thing to it, except a willingness to see.”
All it takes is willingness. Not a high IQ or lots of money or a special location. Just humble obedience to Jesus. And we will see the glory of God.
Are we willing?