God's Kaleidoscope of Colors
~ A Virtual Paintbox ~

Finding God's Presence In Nature



Thou, even thou, art LORD alone; thou hast made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth, and all things that are therein, the seas, and all that is therein, and thou preservest them all; and the host of heaven worshippeth thee.  (Nehemiah 9:6)

The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork.  (Psalms 19:1)

All thy works shall praise thee, O LORD; and thy saints shall bless thee.  (Psalms 145:10)

Happy is he that hath the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the LORD his God: Which made heaven, and earth, the sea, and all that therein is: which keepeth truth for ever.  (Psalms 146:5-6)

Let them praise the name of the LORD: for he commanded, and they were created.  (Psalms 148:5)

He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young. Who hath measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, and meted out heaven with the span, and comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance? (Isaiah 40:11-12)




Some of my fondest memories as a child and early teen are of times when I would take walks through the woods behind my parent's home to sit on top of a hill overlooking a small community that sat nestled below it.  As I sat there in the stillness of God's creation, listening to the sound of the birds and watching the beauty of the trees and flowers around me, I felt His presence in a way that was equal to any church service I have ever participated in.  My faith was nurtured on that hilltop, and in times when my faith grows weary, I find myself returning to nature to restore and replenish the faith that is deep within my soul.

Many of us have had our most meaningful spiritual experiences in relationship to the environment.  Beauty provokes us to transcend our mundane concerns, shortcomings and conflicts.  We have heard the voice of God in our woods and waterways, in bird song or the remarkable delicacy of a flower.   Yet, there are those around us who readily abandon the idea of a higher power, or ascribe all this complexity to the whim of chaos.  For me, when I look into the eyes of nature, and see all the beauty that God has placed here for us to enjoy, there is no denying His presence in the world He created, or in my life. In those still, quiet moments when I am intertwined with Him, He is as real as the air I breath, and His voice speaks to me as softly as a gentle breeze. 

I often find myself looking at the clouds by day and the sunset by night, admiring the colors and the way that God seems to paint His beauty across the sky for all to see.  He is quite the artist and nothing can compare to the beauty that He sets before us.  This spring, I have particularly been impressed by the colors of the leaves and blooms that have covered the landscapes.  And, have you ever seen so many different shades of green?   It is amazing !!!

The 19th-century English poet Gerard Manley Hopkins once wrote that “The world is charged with the grandeur of God."  And in equally moving words, the psalmist David wrote:


“The heavens are telling the glory of God;
  and the firmament proclaims his handiwork.
  Day to day pours forth speech,
  and night to night declares knowledge.
  There is no speech, nor are there words;
  Their voice is not heard;
  yet their voice goes out through all the earth,
  And their words to the end of the world.”

   ~ Psalm 19: 1-4


Throughout human history, our poets, writers and mystics have seen God’s reflection in nature.  And they have been inspired, even compelled, to share their visions.

Think for a moment of all the images from nature that have been and continue to be evoked as metaphors for God or some aspect of the Divine: fire, wind, water, earth, sun, and light.  The presence of God has also been symbolized by thunder and lightning, a towering mountain, an indestructible rock, a self-contained seed, a mighty tree, and an unfolding flower.  Something of God has been revealed in the blazing eyes of a tiger, a soaring eagle, a cooing dove, and a beautiful butterfly.

As Ralph Waldo Emerson put it in his classic book Nature, “Nature is the symbol of spirit.” Indeed it is, and in fabulous diversity!

Human beings have always been drawn to the beauty and majesty of nature, but nature invites us to look deeper. It’s as if God is hiding behind every tree, under every rock, over every hill, across every meadow, at the bottom of every lake, through every cloud, on the wings of every bird, and in the eyes of every animal.   It’s as if God is playing hide-and-seek with us and waiting for us to discover the One in all.

“The happiest man is he who learns from nature the lesson of worship,” wrote Emerson. “The noblest ministry of nature is to stand as the apparition of God. It is the organ through which the universal spirit speaks to the individual, and strives to lead back the individual to it.”



Let us pray ...

Father, we thank you for your presence in our lives and in the world around us.  Thank you for the many blessings you bestow upon us, for your mercy and your grace, and for your love that surrounds us each and every day of our lives.  Father, help us to be thankful in all things, and to never take for granted the simple pleasures of life; a sunrise, the beauty of a flower, and most importantly, life itself.  May we always be mindful of your almighty presence even when we do not feel it, and may we always come to you with childlike faith, and an attitude of thanksgiving, because we know Lord, that it's only through you, that all things are possible.   Father, we thank you most of all for the gift of your Son, Jesus, and for the wonderful gift of salvation that You so lovingly give each and every one of us, if we only believe in You.  Father, be with each and every person in the world today, Lord, meet them at the source of their needs and cover them with your love and your peace.  May we always seek your presence and the True Riches that come from knowing you.  In the name of Jesus, the sweetest, most precious name I know.  Amen. 


Stories to Touch the Heart and Warm the Soul:


~ Author Unknown ~


Carl was a quiet man.  He didn't talk much.  He would always greet you with a big smile and a firm handshake.  Even after living in our neighborhood for over 50 years, no one could really say they knew him very well.

Before his retirement, he took the bus to work each morning.  The lone sight of him walking down the street often worried us.  He had a slight limp from a bullet wound received in WWII.  Watching him, we worried that although he had survived WWII, he may not make it through our changing uptown neighborhood with its ever-increasing random violence, gangs and drug activity. 

When he saw the flyer at our local church asking for volunteers for caring for the gardens behind the minister's residence, he responded in his characteristically unassuming manner.  Without fanfare, he just signed up.

He was well into his 87th year when the very thing we had always feared finally happened.  He was just finishing his watering for the day when three gang members approached him.  Ignoring their attempt to intimidate him, he simply asked, "Would you like a drink from the hose?"  The tallest and toughest-looking of the three said, "Yeah, sure," with a malevolent little smile.  As Carl offered the hose to him, the other two grabbed Carl's arm, throwing him down.  As the hose snaked crazily over the ground, dousing everything in its way, Carl's assailants stole his retirement watch and his wallet, and then fled.

Carl tried to get himself up, but he had been thrown down on his bad leg.  He lay there trying to gather himself as the minister came running out to help him.  Although the minister had witnessed the attack from his window, he couldn't get there fast enough to stop it.  "Carl, are you okay?  Are you hurt?" the minister kept asking as he helped Carl to his feet.  Carl just passed a hand over his brow and signed, shaking his head.  "Just some punk kids.  I hope they'll wise-up someday."  His wet clothes clung to his slight frame as he bent to pick up the hose.  He adjusted the nozzle again and started to water.

Confused and a little concerned, the minister asked, "Carl, what are you doing?"  "I've got to finish my watering.  It's been very dry lately," came the calm reply.  Satisfying himself that Carl really was alright, the minister could only marvel.  Carl was a man from a different time and place.

A few weeks later the three returned.  Just as before, their threat was unchallenged.  Carl again offered them a drink from his hose.  This time they didn't rob him.  They wrenched the hose from his hand and drenched him head to foot in the icy water.  When they had finished their humiliation of him, they sauntered off down the street, throwing catcalls and curses, falling over one another laughing at the hilarity of what they had just done.  Carl just watched them.  Then he turned toward the warmth giving sun, picked up his hose, and went on with his watering.

The summer was quickly fading into fall.  Carl was doing some tilling when he was startled by the sudden approach of someone behind him.  He stumbled and fell into some evergreen branches.  As he struggled to regain his footing, he turned to see the tall leader of his summer tormentors reaching down for him.  He braced himself for the expected attack.  "Don't worry old man.  I'm not going to hurt you this time."  The young man spoke softly, still offering the tattooed and scarred hand to Carl. 

As he helped Carl get up, the man pulled a crumpled bag from his pocket and handed it to Carl.  "What's this?" Carl asked.  "It's your stuff," the man explained.  "It's your stuff back.  Even the money in your wallet."  "I don't understand," Carl said.  "Why would you help me now?"

The man shifted his feet, seeming embarrassed and ill at ease.  "I learned something from you," he said.  "I ran with that gang and hurt people like you.  We picked you because you were old and we knew we could do it.  But every time we came and did something to you, instead of yelling and fighting back, you tried to give us a drink.  You didn't hate us for hating you.  You kept showing love against our hate."  He stopped for a moment.  "I couldn't sleep after we stole your stuff, so here it is back."  He paused for another awkward moment, not knowing what more there was to say.  "That bag's my way of saying thanks for straightening me out, I guess."  And with that, he walked off down the street.

Carl looked down at the sack in his hands and gingerly opened it.  He took out his retirement watch and put it back on his wrist.  Opening his wallet, he checked for his wedding photo.  He gazed for a moment at the young bride that still smiled back at him from all those years ago.

He died one cold day after Christmas that winter.  Many people attended his funeral in spite of the weather.  In particular, the minister noticed a tall young man that he didn't know sitting quietly in a distant corner of the church.  The minister spoke of Carl's garden as a lesson in life.  In a voice made thick with unshed tears, he said, "Do you best and make your garden as beautiful as you can.   We will never forget Carl and his garden."

The following spring another flyer went up.  It read:  "Person needed to care for Carl's garden."  The flyer went unnoticed by the busy parishioners until one day when a knock was heard at the minister's office door.  Opening the door, the minister saw a pair of scarred and tattooed hands holding the flyer.  "I believe this is my job, if you'll have me," the young man said.  The minister recognized him as the same young man who had returned the stolen watch and wallet to Carl.  He knew that Carl's kindness had turned this man's life around.  As the minister handed him the keys to the garden shed, he said, "Yes, go take care of Carl's garden and honor him."

The man went to work and, over the next several years, he tended the flowers and vegetables just as Carl had done.  In that time, he went to college, got married, and became a prominent member of the community.  But he never forgot his promise to Carl's memory and kept the garden as beautiful as he thought Carl would have kept it.

One day he approached the new minister and told him that he couldn't care for the garden any longer.  He explained with a shy and happy smile, "My wife just had a baby boy last night, and she's bringing him home on Saturday."  "Well, congratulations!" said the minister, as he was handed the garden shed keys.  "That's wonderful!  What's the baby's name?"  "Carl," he replied.

~ Author Unknown ~

The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork.  (Psalms 19:1)