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Speaking Out: Nature’s splendour sets spiritual tone

By  Sarah Wentzell, Youth Speak News
  • January 22, 2020

Reading the accounts of my great-grandfather’s memories of the First World War, I am given a glimpse into the truly brutal horror of the war field. Yet in the midst of the tales of the ugliness of war, I found one remarkable incident that stayed in my memory.

The men were huddled in the trenches, no man’s land stretching ominously out before them. And across this barren wasteland strolled a single cock pheasant. The soldiers’ diet was very monotonous and the thought of juicy pheasant meat must have been enough to make their mouths water, yet not a single soldier clicked the trigger to end the bird’s life. As the records of Capt. Jack Walshe read, “In the midst of such death and destruction the beauty of this bird was a balm to men’s souls.”

These were avowed enemies, men broken down by hunger, disease and the constant horror of death around them. Yet a single bird walked across this war zone unharmed. A single bird made God’s presence felt to these battered men.

This event illustrates perfectly the power even a tiny part of God’s creation can work on the souls of those around it. If the beauty of a pheasant can overcome even the grim realities of war, what can the whole of nature do for mankind?

I have always felt a strong connection to nature that quite naturally coincides with my spiritual beliefs. I find that the feelings God’s creation inspires in me are central to my Catholic faith. One of these is peace. When I am out listening to the wind in the trees or watching the patterns of clouds in the sky, I feel a deep tranquility and contentedness. Troubles and time seem to fade away outdoors and it seems to be one of the easiest places to truly trust and rely on God.

Another aspect about nature that leads to the worship of God is awe. There are such boundless complexities and wonders in nature that it seems impossible not to feel amazement. Gazing at the billions upon billions of stars at night, or watching the glimmer of bioluminescence, one discovers how infinite and marvellous God is.

I also find observing nature fills me with a profound sense of love. Just as an artist pours their soul into their work, God’s creation is instilled with His love. In addition, the sense of mystery and intrigue in nature leads one to contemplate God. As St. Patrick used a shamrock to explain the Trinity, the mysteries of nature can turn our thoughts to higher spiritual realities.  

In Anne of Green Gables, by Lucy Maud Montgomery, Anne says, “If I really wanted to pray I’ll tell you what I’d do. I’d go out into a great big field all alone or in the deep, deep woods and I’d look up into the sky — up — up — up into that lovely blue sky that looks as if there was no end to its blueness. And then I’d just feel a prayer.”

God’s presence can be felt so strongly in nature; its quiet solitudes often lift one’s mind and soul to God. Nature is truly one of God’s temples, and spending time outdoors helps to take our mind away from our busy lives and focus it on our Creator.

However, in our modern culture, surrounded by the dust of cities, it is easy to brush past the natural world instead of embracing it. We build walls to isolate ourselves from the very place we need to be. We become so wrapped up in the busyness of our lives we forget to slow down and appreciate the thousands of gifts in nature God is giving us every day.

As Pope Francis urges in his encyclical, Laudato Si’, we must be careful to defend and protect the natural world which is vulnerable to exploitation. God gives us the natural resources to use and it is imperative not to abuse that privilege. As Henry David Thoreau said, “In wildness is the preservation of the world.”

We cannot see God in His glory on this Earth, but we can marvel at His creation and contemplate how much more wonderful its Creator must be.

(Wentzell, 16, is a Grade 11 student in Seton Home Study School in Thunder Bay, Ont.)

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Thank you Miss SARAH WENTZELL for your insight on God's creation presented to us all, as a free gift that deserves our thanks in silence or in an inspirational blog such as yours. We need our young people to act as prophets so we all may begin to...

Thank you Miss SARAH WENTZELL for your insight on God's creation presented to us all, as a free gift that deserves our thanks in silence or in an inspirational blog such as yours. We need our young people to act as prophets so we all may begin to "care for all of creation" as expressed in the two prayers that anchor the Laudato Si encyclical.

Well done indeed!
Peter Tetro,
Kingston

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