Opening the Book of Nature: Discovering Spiritual Lessons in the Out-of-doors
“Ever since the creation of the world his eternal power and divine nature, invisible though they are, have been understood and seen through the things he has made.” (Rom 1:20)
The Scriptures, early Christians, the saints, and the reformers all speak about the ability of creation to provide deep and potent spiritual instruction:
St. Augustine (354 – 430)
There is a great book: the very appearance of created things. God never wrote that book with ink. Instead He set before your eyes the things that He had made.
St. John of Damascus (675 – 749)
The whole earth is a living icon of the face of God.
St. Bernard of Clairvaux (1090 – 1153)
Believe one who knows: You will find something greater in woods than in books. Trees and stones will teach you that which you can never learn from masters.
Martin Luther (1483 – 1546)
God writes the Gospel, not in the Bible alone, but also on trees, and in the flowers and clouds and stars.
John Calvin (1509 – 1564)
God has ordained the world to be like a theater upon which to behold his goodness.
Most Christians have lost touch with how God expresses him/herself through creation. For many of us our technology and hurried pace have dulled our ability to read the spiritual lessons in nature. The “Opening the Book of Nature” (OBN) program helps participants recover an ability to discern spiritual lessons, and experience God, in creation. When Jesus began His ministry. He did not spend forty days in the temple. Instead He went out into the wilderness. Likewise, Christians, as well as people of all faiths in every century, have found spiritual lessons in wild places – and we can, too.
OBN helps connect participants to the early Christian tradition of learning spiritual lessons from nature. OBN “explorations” use periods of private prayer and reflection alternating with discussion to produce a blend of low key instruction, personal experience and group sharing. This unique learning method helps each person share in the personal discoveries made by others, learn from one another’s insights and experiences, and advance into a more effective ability to grow spiritually in and through creation. This process works for people from all backgrounds, educational levels and denominations. With slight modifications it also works for people of diverse non-Christian faith traditions.