The natural world can act as a launch point to God. In fact, one of the great saints of the Church, St. Bonaventure, along with St. John of the Cross, used nature as a launch point for contemplation of our God.
I recently started reading St. Bonaventure’s A Soul’s Journey to God and think St. Bonaventure can help us focus on what matters, which is our relationship with Christ, who is our Lord, our Savior, and our God.
In the first chapter, Bonaventure said that creation should be preserved, and we should lift our hearts to bless God for these vestiges, or footprints of God, who made all things; and we should treat the created world as a launch point, what he called the “first stage” up the ladder of divine ascent. St. Bonaventure’s discussion focuses on the treatment of God’s creation, both in observation and in practice, with the goal in mind of transforming minds and hearts in conformity with Christ.
A relevant text from Scripture can be found in the “Canticle of the Three Youths” from Daniel 3. This text starts with blessing the Lord for all his creation and encourages praising God above all things forever. The Canticle then lists different parts of creation, such as weather and animals, and immediately blesses the Lord for creating those things.
St. John of the Cross would often look out his window or go spend time in solitude in nature to help him pray. He exhorts people to remember that nature is not an end, but rather a means to God. Once we see its beauty, we must immediately launch our hearts, like a rocket, to God. If we rest in created beauty, we are not giving God his due.
We see here how the created world can be something we look at and begin to come to God through, and this focus is not natural, but spiritual. May we always keep our eyes on God, especially when enjoying the beauty of his creation.
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