We are designed by God to love nature, not just to live in it. This is seen in the fact that God often meets us through nature, as such encounters encourage our souls and enliven our bodies. Therefore, in a world that has little room for nature, we must adopt tactics that will open us up to God through nature.
This is the final sermon in the 4D series, and it addresses our call to love creation. The point Dan seeks to make is that God’s presence can act upon us through nature. Not only is there a knowledge about God that can be transferred through nature, but also God reaches through nature to shape us. It is both a message and spiritual movement. Therefore, nature is worthy of our love.
As Saint Francis said: “Nature is a sacrament.” When we encounter nature with an open mind, we can meet God in that moment. This is distinct from a common notion that equates nature with God.
In addition, we should love nature in the same way that when we love a person, we automatically love what they create. In order to denigrate nature, we have to suppress all of our natural affection for God who is the one who created.
Also, we should love nature because we were made to love nature. We were created with a great opportunity to steward creation. The more we drift way from this calling, the more we are alienated from how we were designed.
When we suppress nature, we are suppressing an avenue for connecting with God. Therefore, in our world that either ignores nature or covers it over with concrete, we need to adopt practical tactics that create space in our lives for God to meet us in nature. Dan suggests four:
- Practice the presence of nature. Spend regular time out in the natural world for its own sake. Our physical bodies are designed in such a way that they depend upon consistent encounters with nature.
- Develop the eyes to see aspects of nature. We have to learn how to encounter nature in order to see it for what it is. Instead of looking directly at it, which often leads to analyzation of what is being viewed, we need to look indirectly at God’s creation.
- Name the animals. Giving a name to animals that you see will give you a sensitivity to God’s creation. We have become desensitized to the importance of animals, but this practice can reorient and sensitize your heart in a really invigorating way.
- Practice pointless mercy. This is a spiritual workout, a practice of being merciful to what are commonly viewed as worthless creatures.
When we encounter nature with a spiritually open heart and mind, God can reach us there.
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