Nature and Grace

Writing several centuries ago, the Christian mystic, Julian of Norwich, wrote “Nature and Grace are in harmony with each other.  For Grace is God and Nature is God.  Neither Nature nor Grace works without the other.  They may never be separated…  That Goodness that is Nature is God.  God is the Ground, the substance, the same that is Naturehood.  God is the true Father and Mother of Nature.”  I read these words a few days ago and have been giving them some thought.  They are certainly deep words.

I cannot help but wonder if someone during her time was making the claim that nature and grace are not in harmony with each other.  I assume that is possible.  If so, I like how Julian addressed this claim.  I think she is correct in seeing the source of both grace and nature in God.  The Bible is clear in noting that we would have neither apart from Him.   Since they have the same source it makes sense that nature and grace would be “in harmony with each other” and that neither “works without the other.”

What all this seems to be saying to me is that we can expect to experience God’s grace in Creation.  Certainly we experience that grace first and foremost in Jesus Christ but it is also to be found in the world Christ has made.  And just as we must open ourselves up to Christ in order to know and feel his grace, we must likewise open ourselves up to nature if we are to know and feel the grace that is to be found there.  Matthew Fox once said, “When we can no longer feel the grace of nature we need to pause and allow grace to bless us again.”  That is good advice.

Have you paused lately to allow the grace of God that is found in Creation to bless you?  Last week my wife and I went to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park to celebrate our anniversary.  We spent a good bit of time in those wonderful mountains and beside the streams that flow from them.  I must say that in those misty mountains I felt God’s grace.  And like Julian, I realized “that goodness that is nature is God.”  That is not to say that I see God and nature as one and the same, just that the One who is “the true Father and Mother of nature” has a wonderful way of bestowing grace upon us through Creation when we realize that the two truly are in harmony with each other.  I encourage you to live in this realization so that you might experience even more of God’s amazing grace in the days to come.

–Chuck

(I took the pictures shown above last week on our anniversary trip to the Smokies.)