Nature and Divinity

I’m starting to read a book, entitled ‘When The Trees Say Nothing‘, given to me by my aunt on Saturday…it’s a collection of Thomas Merton’s writings on nature. From what I can tell Merton’s life (1915-1968) and writings are rather extraordinary, or at least far from common to say the least. His life spanned a period of time that witnessed immense social change and world strife. He was a Catholic priest who, from what I can tell so far, had a deep connection with the natural world and understood it as a conduit to a higher power. Surprisingly to me, Merton spent some time at St. Bonaventure university in the early 1940’s which is personally interesting because I have a close relative who went to school there (well after the Merton years) and their family has lived there ever since. In a nut shell, Merton became a priest and prolific writer, and as far as I can tell he lived in the woods amongst the trees, taking a vow of silence for quite some time, and coming to an understanding that nature and god are interconnected fundamentally. It will be interesting reading ‘When The Trees…” and also reading more about his life.

Back on “our” land I tried to find the time today to reconnect with nature. Checking the bees and an after dinner walk did exactly that, as always without fail. I’m not one to write much about religion in my posts, but I’ll lend one ounce of my perspective that, as I read of Merton’s life and writing is likely in sync with his mindset as well. On a fundamental level nature is the purest expression of god (or whatever one believes in, in terms of a greater power or natural order) as far as I can tell.  Nature is free will, it is design, it is awe, beauty and wonder. It’s power, fascination, creation and destruction all in one.  Sounds like some god qualities to me. We’ve all been brought up to believe that man is at the top and nature has been created, or created itself, to be of service to the righteousness and order of man… I’m not sure organized religion has done much in the last 2000 years to dissuade this viewpoint with much fervor. There was a time when a tree represented god and all his wonder. Then someone decided we had to cut down the trees and goto a man-made building to visit god. I don’t know about you but if I want to talk to god, I figure I’ve got a better shot of him listening to me if I goto the house he built instead of the one I built. I’m no bible scholar but from what I can remember from Catholic school, Jesus himself spent most of his time (when he wasn’t eating at someone’s house) out on the water fishing, in the desert praying or gardens meditating.  The last time he went into a big city they crucified him. Regardless, the point is I like to think he, (or who or whatever you believe in) would want us to have a little more regard for the natural world around us other than seeing how quickly we can destroy it. I don’t know, I guess we’ll all find out one way or another someday. I know where I’m placing my bet.

We checked the bees today and thankfully the miracle that is a beehive was performing beyond imagination right in our backyard. We saw frame after frame of eggs and larvae, and we saw our new queen again.  The beauty and perfection of comb on frame is all the evidence one needs to know that man should be in service of nature and not the other way around. I showed a photo of a frame full of honey comb, capped brood and larvae to some clients and they implied that the entire comb is molded into the frames by a machine, as it looks so perfect. They couldn’t believe that bees can build all of that, and to such a level of perfection. And built essentially out of bee “spit” for lack of a scientific way to explain it (too lazy to get into the details here). I for one am humbled by the knowledge, work ethic and perseverance that honey bees demonstrate.

As we closed up the hive I took a moment and lowered my ear to the top of the hive and essentially hugged it. The hum of 10,000 bees literally vibrates its way into your soul. As I’ve said before, it’s like listen to the pulse of creation. If you could somehow reach into the earth and heavens at once, pulling into your soul every thought, feeling and dream ever sown…that is what it would be like. To hear one has to be willing to let go of everything that is predisposed inside of you. Grant yourself, or ask a higher power to grant you, the grace to free yourself from the chains of life and listen…hear. You have not lived, you have not seen or heard “god” until you do that. The mind and hands of man have yet to invent a conduit, in word or stone, that is as clear a connection to a greater meaning to our life. You want a pilgrimage? Hop in the car and ask to visit the cypress boxes stacked up in our back yard.  I listened for but a moment…it’s all I needed to set my mixed up world right again, at least for a few more days.

I don’t know.

Maybe I’ll stop shaving and go sleep on a cot out there from now on.

After dinner I took a break from painting in the studio and walked around outside; nothing heavy just a quick stroll. I hadn’t been down to the “pond” in a while. The berm has a ton of thistle and there is a little water retaining down there. I saw some cool canine tracks…maybe we have coyotes.  I wish I had one of those motion cams and I could capture them on camera  (most likely at night).  I looked and ProjectCam just does time-lapse.

Lastly I couldn’t resist so I snuck down to the front of our driveway and picked black berries.  They’re the plumpest, blackest I’ve ever seen. It’s a banner year for the wild berries. The good lord above would definitely enjoy taking a walk, talking and eating these divine culinary jewels on a cool firefly Summer evening.

Well with each day a new gift is given, not promised. The gift of this day is about over so I’ll leave it there and fall asleep with visions of berries and bees in my head, and the wondrous beauty of nature in my soul.

2 thoughts on “Nature and Divinity

  1. After reading your post, I thought about taking time out from the busyness of life..

    Sat on my deck early morning… quiet and reflective… thinking about the sounds and lights of the early

    day…. and the peace it brings… God meets us wherever we are..thanks Chris for the post…


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