I go and sit beside the broken tree;
In a grove full of health.
The birds above flit and twitter joyfully
But not in that poor broken tree.
But as I think upon the broken tree,
My sadness turns to delight and joyfully
I realize its very existence is cause for worship.
And as I walk away, thankfully,
I realize that the broken tree is me.
I penned this during a time of reflection in the park this morning. It was on my way back from the park, that I began to consider the role of that tree and how it had touched me in such a simple but profound way. Nature has a tendency to do this for us, yet we seem to have forgotten to even take time to look at the natural beauty around us.
Richard Foster, in his book Celebration of Discipline, in a discussion of study as pertaining to nature says this:
“…the next step is to make friends with the flowers and the trees and the little creatures that creep upon the earth…of this much we can be sure: if we love the creation, we will learn from it.”
While our initial reaction may be one of ridicule (who makes friends with flowers?!?) there is a profound truth to what Foster is saying.
“Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”
We, as man, have been given dominion over creation. This means much more (and I would claim excludes) being able to use and abuse nature however we wish. It is a call for benevolent government of the natural world. If we are to be benevolent rulers, we have to understand and love the beauty around us. It is important to realize that having dominion over the earth is not simply a power trip; it is not God’s concession to a power-hungry man. Rather, it is us being placed in our correct place in the natural order, a place where we can deeply experience God. Our appreciation for nature is not purely aesthetic and neither is our desire to protect it; these feed the spiritual life as they bring us closer to God’s created intent.
Yet we so often ignore the natural world all around us. We feel like the only place we see natural beauty is in the mountains, or during a sunset at the beach. But what about the ant crawling on your book as you read outside? Or even a blade of grass? It is when we literally take the time to stop and smell the roses that we open ourselves further to God that we may more fully experience His grace and work in our lives.
Grace and peace.