I am young and do not know much about our world, but I believe that the earth is good.
When I signed up for the course in Christian Theology, I did not realize my black and white faith was about to be flipped up-side-down. From the Creation story to the book of Revelation, new theories and concepts were tossed around the classroom sending my head in spirals. By the end of the term, I felt sick and confused. I spent the following year asking questions about faith and receiving few satisfactory answers. I roamed in a haze of uncertainty and frustration.
At about the same time, I began training for my first-ever half marathon and, with each mile, I grew more aware of my body and its rhythms and cycles. I heard when my lungs were excited and wanted to push the pace, when my quads asked for a stretch break, and when the muscles of my arms wanted the nutrients from green peppers or chocolate milk for lunch. At the same time, I felt a growing connection with the rhythms and cycles of the earth which became most evident one afternoon in March as I ran by fields with old cornstalks pointing through the soil and thought, “I want to run between those rows and run and run until I run into the earth and become apart of it.” The earth was becoming alive to me – alive and sacred – and I began to feel a new sense of freedom and comfort when sliding into my running shoes and stepping outside
After completing the race, I flew to Colorado to spend the summer working at a camp. It was in those ten weeks of playing with children and hiking among the mountains that my search for God and admiration for nature intertwined so that I began to look to nature to teach me truths about God in ways that theology classes and endless discussions could not. The sun taught me of God’s faithfulness each morning it rose above the horizon and the rain taught me of God’s kindness as it quenched the thirst of the dry grass and shallow lakes. As I dwelled on these bits of truths and other daily discoveries, the haziness began to lift.
I still rely on nature to help clear the fog when it descends on my mind and nature still teaches me. These days, I understand how God is always the same and yet always different as I sit by my Grandmother’s creek and watch new water continually swirl downstream. These days, I understand that particular characteristics of God are more vibrant to some people than to others. For example, I love the boldness of God displayed through stalks of wheat flexing in the face of a strong wind. My Mother takes delight in the delicacy of God, apparent in the lily-of-the-valley. These days, I understand why God looked at the earth and said it was not simply good, but very good.
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