Monday, 27 June 2011

Nature's Song

"The flowers appear on the earth; the time of song is come, and the voice of the turtle dove is heard in our land. The fig tree ripeneth her green figs, and the vines are in blossom, they give forth their fragrance. Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away my dove, that art in the clefts of the rock, in the covert of the steep place. Let me see thy countenance, let me hear thy voice. For sweet is thy voice and thy countenance is comely." Song of Songs 2:12-14

There are moments when the majesty and beauty of nature simply take your breath away and the awesomeness of creation envelops you. Moments where all the pomp and spectacle of humanity seem as nothing in comparison. Or as Jesus put it:

"Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin yet I say unto you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one these". Matthew 6:28-29

Yesterday I had one such moment

After a very long, tiring and trying day (except for the beautiful couple of hours in chapel during the morning) I finally had time to sit in peace for a little while, and enjoy the sunshine and that special tranquillity that only a summer evening can bring. After watching a little cricket on the village green I started across the fields heading home. Walking along cool wooded hedgerows, views of a wide, gently rolling landscape framed by brambles and trees, I approached a flat area, nestled gently in the valley of a stream. The fields that stretched out in all directions, their golden/green colour illuminated by the golden warmth of the sun, were stained with multiple patches of red from the many poppies scattered amongst the grain. The heavens, the wide, cloudless, deep blue sky was magnificent in its scale and colour, a huge canopy-like expanse providing as much space as needed for the swifts to weave and dive. The sounds of crickets and birdsong were the musical accompaniment to this symphony of nature. I was transfixed to the spot, my eyes drinking every sight and my heart bursting with joy, awe and gratitude as the past and future disappeared leaving me only in the present. In moments such as these God is seemingly never as close and the sweet voice and comely countenance of our Divine beloved are there to be experienced.

This went on to remind me of something I once heard from the Chief Rabbi, who pointed out that such an experience is only one of several ways in which we encounter God. The sound of someone crying out in pain or fear, the sight of someone in need or more accurately our response to these things, are also encounters with the Divine and no less significant. These are clarion calls summoning us to take an active role, to be partners with Him in creation.

In a world as immense and complex as ours, surely the inquisitiveness of our own minds, authored by the same Designer of nature, cannot be artificially limited without negative consequences. Those that feel that they can protect what they regard as true, by shackling and stifling the minds of others, commit what can only be termed an atrocity against the human spirit, and perhaps even a degree of blasphemy. For truth needs no supports, requires no underhand methods to maintain itself. It is its own justification. The overwhelming magnitude, complexity and beauty of our world, should be matched only by our willingness to expand our minds, deepen our understanding and to grace our lives with the beauty of a life lived always ready to hear and respond lovingly to the still small voice of God.

The earth, and all the heavenly frame, their great Creator's love proclaim.
He gives the sun his genial power, and sends the soft refreshing shower.
The ground with plenty blooms again, and yields its various fruits to men;
To men, who from his bounteous hand. Receive the gifts of every land.
Nor to the human race alone; is His paternal goodness shown.
The tribes of earth, and sea, and air, enjoy His universal care.
Thomas Gibbons 1720-1785

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