Tufts of grass sprout up amidst a bed of rocks lining the river's curves. Birds swoop and dive high above among the treetops, sounding their calls, bidding adieu to another fine day. Atop my makeshift perch of impressive quartz, I look at the vast array of stones surrounding me. If it were a snapshot I would title it "Impermanence", for every rock I see has a continually evolving story that no one but God will ever know.
Sometimes when I look at a particular rock, in its misshapen and irregular shape, bearing deep grooves, sporting gashes along its contour where elements have taken off whole pieces, I wonder where along the river, or perhaps buried inside some deep glacier, did it have its beginning. Such a thought is almost hard to comprehend-the genesis of a stone. Even with a tree, one could come to wonder where it got its beginning. Of course in the seed from which it sprung from, but what about the tree that seed came from? And the tree before that? Have you ever wondered what the very first tree looked like? What kind it might have been? Could such a thing ever be figured out, with total certainty?
Even the Bible, which serves as no science text book but regardless does give an account of the beginning, does not get very specific. It tends to speak more in general terms, giving account of large groups at a time in terms of their conception. This is naturally because the Bible's message is not one of biology but one of salvation.
I must admit and humble myself that there are some things that mankind will never truly know for sure. We can speculate, hypothesize, and have fun dreaming up the possibilities, but some answers seem to belong to God and God alone.
What exactly does that mean? What could one get from that truth? The truth of an all-knowing diety that has existed before time and exists outside of time wholly independent from our existence? I know to me, it points towards the vastness of God, to His greatness, to His holiness and His soveriegnty over all things. It also is a very humbling thought.
As I return my thoughts back to the rocks surrounding me and look at their living scars I'm reminded of the merciless nature of the natural world. As beautiful as it is, it has little if no compassion on the weak, no pity for the weary. If you can't keep up out here you are welcomed quite readily into the bosom of nature's grave where quite assuredly other creatures will make good use of you. I am reminded that as much as I take refreshment and find awe in its presence, it is really the glory of God manifested that my heart is drawn to. God's love is the direct antithesis of nature's brutality. Where the natural world tramples on the weak, the Lord lifts the weak up. Where the weary found in nature could easily be overcome and drowned by the merciless waves of the sea, the weary who trust in God have only to ask and receive His water, living water, that brings life, not death, and light to the soul.
In relation to nature and God Thomas Merton wrote this:
"When we see things as they are in God (or as we think they are in God) in relation to the goodness and love of their creator, then the things are filled with more beauty and mores significance than would be possible if we just looked at the thing for its own sake....The tree offers us shade, which is pleasant, and so reminds us of God's mercy and love which is pleasant and full of solace, and the tree appears to be the instrument of God's mercy and love for the just and the unjust alike.~ Thomas Merton, Run to the Mountain, p. 26-27
...The tree is a living thing, nourished as we are by the Lord God, and holding up its leaves and branches loving the air and the light that move around and among it, and nourished by the sun and the rain and the rich ground: and so, loving the tree, not for itself, we are able to achieve the imaginative self-identification with it poets and Saints both seek after and we love it in something of the same kind of way as Saint Francis loved and understood the birds and living creatures.
The soul cannot enjoy things, it can only enjoy itself or the love of God. It cannot enjoy trees: but God and his mercy and love are everywhere in the air, in the trees, in our hearts. So we can be struck with love and sympathy and understanding for the Godliness that is in all the things around us, that proclaim the immense and unfailing love of their creator."
I think Merton, in this passage, gives much for one to reflect on when spending time in nature.
Anyways, I don't want to make this too long, but if any of you have any thoughts towards this topic I'd love your feedback :)