Nurturing Delight

I realize that most eyes are probably focused on the Super Bowl today but I’d like for you to consider the need to focus your eyes elsewhere (not necessarily during the game).  I recently came across a quotation where we find a clarion call to do just that.  Scott Hoezee writes: “…a major part of our Christian vocation should be the nurturing of delight in this universe of wonders—a delight similar to God’s own playful joy in creation, which we see traced for us in Scripture.  This world teems with opportunities for such delight—the question is whether we take the time to notice.”

I appreciate Hoezee’s recognition that seeing Creation is “a major part of our Christian vocation” and also his call to nurture our delight in all God has made. Christians would benefit spiritually if they paid more attention to God’s Creation and nurtured delight in it, but how can we do so?  Two of my favorite writers offer good advice.

One of these writers is John Muir.  From him I have learned that if we are going to nurture delight we must be intentional.  Like a fiery evangelist Muir called people to go to the woods or into the mountains to experience what God’s Creation has to offer.  He encouraged people to leave their fears and worries behind and find peace, joy and delight in nature’s gifts.

The other writer is Mary Oliver.  In many of Oliver’s poems she calls on us to pay attention to the world around us.  That seems pretty obvious but I’ve discovered that it’s easier said than done.  When it comes to seeing Creation and finding God there I fear a lot of us have a form of attention deficit disorder.  We find it hard to stay focused.  We get easily distracted.  If we are going to nurture delight in God’s Creation we must overcome this. 

With these two writers in mind, here are my own thoughts. In order to nurture delight in this universe of wonders we must make a commitment to do just that.  Without this commitment we will neither be intentional nor pay attention.  I would also suggest that the best place to start would be with a prayer to God asking His help on this journey.  Ask Him to open your eyes so that you might see all He wants you see.  Pray that you will not only see but learn all the truths He desires to teach you in His Creation.

Once a person has made the necessary commitment and asked for God’s help he or she should start paying attention.  No matter where you live you are exposed every day to the wonders of God’s Creation.  Slow down and take notice of what’s there.  After you have noticed something, think about what you are seeing.  You might ask yourself a couple of questions.  What can I learn from what I’m observing?  How should I respond to what I see?  Doing this will give God an opportunity to teach you many things.  Doing this will also invariably lead you to worship the Creator.

The final thing I would suggest here is that you periodically make time to be present to Creation’s wonders.  Be intentional by taking a hike in the woods.  Go somewhere that you can watch the sun rise or set.  Sit beneath a tree and meditate.  Find a stream, river or ocean that you can watch and listen to and just be still.  Hold a rock or shell or flower in your hand and pay very close attention to it. 

There are many ways we can nurture delight in God’s Creation.  I encourage you to discover what works best for you and then begin finding both the joy and wisdom that is found in God’s handiwork.  There is so much delight awaiting each of us!

–Chuck

(I took these three images on a trip with Rob to the eastern Sierras.  The top image was made in the Buttermilk Mountains, the second in the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, and the third at Mono Lake.)