Jul 7 2010

Nature’s Trail

SNP-AT-089I have long been drawn to the life and teachings of Francis of Assisi.  Yesterday I took some time to listen to a lecture on Francis.  It was noted in this lecture that Francis believed that nature was a trail that led to God.  His thinking was that like following footprints in the snow can lead you to the one who left the prints, if you follow the footsteps of Creation they will lead you to the Creator.  This line of thinking is consistent with what the apostle Paul wrote in Romans 1:20:  “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.”

Francis’ belief that Creation led one to God no doubt contributed to his well-known love of nature.  It is what enabled him to write the Canticle of Brother Sun.  In this hymn Francis offers supreme praise to the “Most High, all powerful, good Lord.”  He then goes on to say, “Praised be You, My Lord, with all your creatures, especially Brother Sun…”  This is followed by praise for Sister Moon, Brother Wind, Brother Fire, Sister Water,  and Sister Mother Earth “who sustains and governs us, and produces varied fruits with colored flowers and herbs.”

In the lecture I listened to it was noted that in this hymn Francis mentions the four classical elements of nature: earth, wind, fire and water.  This could have been his way of claiming that all of Creation sings forth the glory of God.  In all that God has made we can find steps that lead us to Him.

If we could somehow adopt Francis’ view of nature’s trail leading to God it would greatly enhance our spiritual journey.  We might learn to pay more attention to God’s “other book” and be drawn closer to Him.  Adopting Francis’ view would also lead us to appreciate Creation more and instill within us a desire to be better stewards of the Earth.  This twelfth century saint has much to teach those willing to learn.


(The image above was taken a few summers ago on the Appalachian Trail in Shenandoah National Park.)