My search to find God goes back many years ago. As a child, I remember attending a number of different churches and associating God with the sound of soft organ music playing and hushed voices as I sat for age-long moments on the hard, wooden pew. Holiness became equivalent to austere and uncomfortable but necessary. From the moment, though, that I first visited the Ashokan Reservoir in Ulster County, New York, as a little girl of six, I saw the wonder of his beauty in creation, and everything changed. I longed to stay forever in that sanctuary of beauty.
I remember the fragrant pines as my family and I walked outside. The reservoir was like nothing else I had ever experienced, but there was a quality that I would discover again and again in my life in different ways. The sheer grandeur of the great outdoors—the birds, the water, the wildlife—made it one of my favorite places to go.
And something came alive deep within me.
God became bigger than any church building and holier than the grandest organ music. The sound of the wind blowing through the pines and the beauty of the great outdoors opened my soul to his greatness and love like nothing before had.
From time to time throughout my growing years, I experienced again the wonder of his presence in creation. There more than anywhere else I have felt both the closeness and the holiness of my Father. Times at the ocean would tap into the power of his presence, and my heart would often feel like it would burst from so much joy.
My heart wanders back to that time as a young adult when I was captivated by a blanket of violets covering the lawn where I lived. I spent hours lying on my back on that special patch of heaven’s treasure, watching the clouds move quickly across the sky. More and more I sensed the joy of knowing him and being known by him in the sanctuary outside. Buttercup necklaces and daisy bracelets were more than a child’s playthings. No, for me they were evidence of the wonder of my Lord—the one who created all of nature.
The ever changing seasons taught me about the beauty of his unchanging character and spoke peace to my soul through the years as I experienced joys and also sadness. I frequently found myself going outside for walks and discovering how nature soothes the troubled spirit and lifts the downcast soul.
I will never forget the time of discovering his power as I stood for the first time on the rocky coast of Maine, watching the ocean waves crash against the huge boulders. The white spray and the cry of the seagulls brought tears to my eyes as my hungry, aching soul drank in the awareness of his mighty presence. Yes, it was there that I experienced, like never before, his personal, intimate care. For me. It was there as I sat on the rocks writing in my journal one summer that I sensed his quiet voice and knew his direction. He whispered peace where there had been confusion, and he reassured me that I was never alone.
Although today I am not blessed with a lovely violet covered lawn, and it’s been years since I have been to my favorite place on the coast of Maine, I easily can bring the vision of these places back to mind, and once, more I find myself refreshed and nurtured by him. Life can so often be busy and noisy, so I find myself needing to journey in nature to be awakened and alive. Sometimes a simple early morning walk becomes a sacred rendezvous between my Lord and me.
Move forward in your search for the sacred by making time to do the following:
- Get outside in nature and intentionally look for the beauty. Often there are special places close to where you live that go unnoticed. Look for them.
- Take time to breathe in his presence and soak in the blessings of his creative gifts.
- Journal about your moments in nature seeking to discover him more deeply.
- Visualize a special place that you had been to where you have sensed his closeness and let it continue to refresh your life today.
I often think that nature is a vast broadcasting station where God daily communicates his love, holiness, and power. Let’s intentionally tune into his message and teach our children to listen to the whispers of his power that are all around us.