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Worshipping God the Creator: two quite diverse stories

Lynne Baab • Thursday August 11 2016

Worshipping God the Creator: two quite diverse stories

Lorna, 40, is a career counselor.

I grew up in the suburbs. We moved all the time. I was never encouraged to be in nature. I was actually afraid of nature, wild animals, that kind of thing. Until recently, I had never been camping. I always associated it with being cold, wet and uncomfortable. I think I was afraid of it.

Nature and my physical surroundings were never a part of my awareness. Until only recently, I didn’t know the names of the mountain ranges on either side of the city where I live. I am now much more aware of the details of nature. The physical world has become a source of comfort to me. I’m much more aware of God’s presence in nature. I wonder if this comes from a proximity to death as I grow older.

I came to Christian faith in my teens, and my faith was somehow disembodied. Now I have more of a sense of God’s presence in my surroundings. More recently there’s been a parallel process of coming into my body. My awareness of God’s presence in nature is in response to a need I feel to experience God more tangibly.

I can look at a tree and feel comforted, be reminded to pray. When I look at the tree, there’s simplicity. Nature speaks to me of my desire to consume, to comfort myself by buying something. I’m finding I would rather look at the view of the tree than spend the same time shopping.

Every year I see new things in the seasons. Dogwoods. Cherry blossoms. The way they fall on the ground. Kierkegaard says we need to learn from the sparrow, because God cares for each one.

I’m more aware of the moon. When I look at the moon, it feels relational, like God’s gift of presence and comfort. I’ll always be a talker and will want lots of relationships, but it’s like I’ve found this whole other sense of comfort that helps me connect with myself. Nature is outside of me, but it connects me to myself. Connecting with nature has given me a developing sense of self, an inner life.

I can be very self-critical and unforgiving to myself. I beat myself up as a Christian that I don’t pray enough. Then I look out the window, and the tree ministers to me. Nature communicates grace to me somehow. Nature says, “It’s this simple. God is this present.”

Penny’s Story: Penny is 39.

I live near a lake. It’s two and a half miles around the lake. I walk it. I run around it. There’s an old fir grove around the lake a ways from my house. The trees stand really straight and beautiful. One day when I was walking by, I felt a presence. I felt it beckon to me, but I was afraid. I started to cry. Later I began to notice something happening to me when I’d get to that place. Once I heard a voice, “You must be empty to be filled.” Once I gained an insight about light and dark.

I’ve named the place “The Brotherwood.” The brown bark makes the trees look like monks. It’s a holy place, a place I pray and am quiet, waiting to hear. I bring concerns there. If I’m sad, it’s the first place I go. If I’m happy, I go there. Those trees are my praying community. As I run around the lake, I see the trees praising God, their branches lifted up.

One time I took a friend there, and we lay on the ground and talked. It seemed afterwards that every place I touched in those woods was alive.

People talk about the energy in cathedrals. I do believe there are holy places, and I stumbled onto one. Or maybe my heart was open and I was ready.

 

This is the eleventh post in a series on worshipping God as Creator. Earlier posts:
     Nature calls us to worship         
     The Creation invites us to join in praise         
     The Bible and Creation         
     Some thoughts from midlife interviews         
     The good creation         
     Creation care         
     Voluntary simplicity           
     Voluntary simplicity in action         
     Bill's story        
     Co-creators with God         

(Next week: a quotation and some relevant scriptures. This post is excerpted from my book, A Renewed Spirituality. Illustration by Dave Baab. If you'd like to receive an email when I post on this blog, sign up under "subscribe" in the right hand column.)



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