Apr 10 2011

St. Augustine’s Advice

The idea of nature being a “second book” of divine revelation goes back at least to the third century, A.D. When St. Anthony the Great was asked how he managed to be such a learned man without the aid of books he said, “My book is the nature of created things, and as often as I have mind to read the words of God, they are at my hand.” A little over a century later St. Augustine would echo this idea. In one of his sermons he said: “Some people, in order to discover God, read books. But there is a great book: the very appearance of created things. Look above you! Look below you! Note it. Read it. God, whom you want to discover, never wrote that book with ink. Instead He set before your eyes the things He had made. Can you ask for a louder voice than that? What, heaven and earth shout to you, ‘God made me!'”

The past couple of days I have had a chance to get out and do some powerful “reading” in a place called Hawaii. This tropical paradise is actually one of God’s more recent chapters. Scientists would even note that it is a work in progress. The volcanic activity this state is known for is constantly reshaping the landscape and even adding land. I have to admit, I really like this particular chapter in God’s second book. It is an exciting place to visit and certainly God’s glory is made abudantly manifest in this beautiful place. Whether you look up, down or all around the enlightened person is certain to feel and see the presence of the Creator.

As I’ve already indicated, I’m glad to be here visiting Hawaii but one doesn’t have to travel to such an exotic location to feel and see God’s presence in nature. Wherever you live you can do this if you will just follow Augustine’s advice–“Look above you! Look below you! Note it. Read it.” In fact, I’m convinced you will learn more from this second book at home than you will in your travels. It takes time to read this “second book.” It’s pages must be read and reread several times. This is not something you can do on a vacation. O, sure you can still experience God away from home. It’s just that you will have a better chance of truly grasping what has been written when you can read the pages day after day, month after month.

The important thing to do is be attentive. Live each day in the awareness that God has provided you with two wonderful books to discover divine truths–the Bible and His Creation. Take time, wherever you are, to read from both books on a daily basis. Incredible riches await those who do!


(I took the top image of new life in a lava field at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on Friday.  The second image was taken the same day at Punlu’u Black Sand Beach.  The image of the wave I took yesterday at Laupahoehoe Point.)