On the Proximity of Nature

Nature by Zach DischnerI can say, quite certainly, that I love nature, but I don’t particularly love being out in it.  I love trees and sunsets and mountain ranges; verdant fields of green and banks of wildflowers; bees, birds, rabbits, and foxes; waterfalls, thunderstorms, and caves full of dark mysteries and ancient rock formations.  Nature is tremendously inspiring, but I prefer it most from the safety of my car, from evocative pages of photo books, or even in the form of stirring documentaries and nature films.

No doubt, to sit in the dusky hours of the day as the sun drops slowly out of sight, telling its daily tale through vibrant colors mingling across the sky, the soul learns a language words cannot teach.  To sit in these colorful moments, in a posture of solitude while the birds all around call and squawk to each other gathering to roost before settling down to rest their weary wings for the night, is an occasion that reaches into the deep parts of the spirit and whispers a profound poem that echos long after the dark has fully descended.  To be still and alert, the self diminishing in the larger context of all creation great and small, is completely satisfying.

But in this quiet revelry, a gnat flies into my wine.  The wind shifts, and the citronella burns my eyes.  The mosquitoes land and begin feasting.  The spiders start their evening prowls, searching their webs for food, and the bats begin diving, coming too close for comfort.

Peace in the soul doesn’t last very long when the nocturnal creatures are beginning their day.  I am as much a nuisance to some of them as they are to me.

I find it best to take my polluted glass of wine and go back inside where I belong, back where I am most comfortable.  I enjoy the out-of-doors like I enjoy my in-doors: easily managed.  For as much as I love nature, the wildness of it is rather fearsome.

I wonder if this is not how many people also love God.

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