By Cynthia Edwards
An essay in the book Creative Spirit Musings
All sentient beings have instincts that cause them to startle at sudden noises, snuggle up to warmth, become alert in the presence of danger, or delight in a good scratch on the back. (I’m thinking of my dog here, but you can substitute your favorite pet or primate cousin and make the same equation.) Naturally, we have the same reactions as fellow mammals in the reception of everyday stimuli. Much of our response to the world is as primitive as any gopher’s and geared towards the preservation of life.
But the normal human being derives so much more out of his daily walk in God’s creation. We are privy to sensations and thought associations that no other creature has been demonstrated to experience.
Yes, our senses are connected to our instincts, but also to our minds, hearts, and spirits. For example, many people take to the wilderness for healing when sorrow or worry has gripped their soul. And basking in the sun has so many positive effects on the body and emotions that we tend to feel an expansive sense akin to worship when under its influence.
Our heartfelt response to the glories of the universe has been expressed in every art form throughout time. The beauty of creation has led more than one amateur to take up pen and paper to compose haiku in honor of the brilliance of a sunset or the mystery of a primeval forest. Even early humans exhibited a perceptive appreciation of their environment through their exquisite cave paintings of deer and buffalo and each other. Accomplished artists, musicians, and architects borrow constantly from the shapes, colors, sounds and evocative ethos of nature.
Amazingly, Saint Paul tells us that nature returns the favor and appreciates us back: “The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed,” he wrote in Romans 8:19. Paul presents an unusual view of nature as a sentient entity, one that has been damaged by the fall of man, and knows it. In verse 22 he goes on to say, “We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.”
One conclusion I draw from these observations is that God made man an integral part of the totality of creation. He did not drop us on Earth like little aliens who required space suits to be able to survive on this planet. He formed us for this environment – and He formed the environment for us. Not merely to live on an instinctual level as the other orders of creation do, but to respond to the Earth with our whole being – body and soul.
There must be a reason. God, who is ever loving and ever creative, thought about what His children would really like and created a environment to please us, soothe us, stimulate us, and give us joy, and He gave it to us in an abundance that is breathtaking. He filled our terrestrial home with awesome vistas, whether looking across the wide plains or peering at the universe that lies under the eye of an atomic force microscope. He gave us extraordinarily diverse environments, from burning deserts to languid wetlands, from cool deep oceans to starry skies, from mountain peaks that pierce the clouds to mines in the earth enriched with veins of noble metals and sparkling gems. He gave us an endlessly growing and changing array of flora, fauna and all the life forms that fall in between to fascinate our agile brains. He filled the good earth with fruits and grains and vegetables in riotous colors, the right size for satisfying human appetites, and with an infinite variety of luscious tastes and possibilities for combining them into unique meal creations of our own.
The next time it rains, don’t run to the TV to watch the weather news. Run to the window or even outdoors and experience the rain: enjoy the sound it makes when it strikes the roof, the cool, wet pricking feel of it on your skin, the humor of watching self-important little raindrops racing each other across a window pane. Lift your face to the blowing wind and hear how it calls to a wild place inside your soul. Sense the flowers and trees and grass stretching their roots deeper into the ground under the rain’s encouraging influence, and finally, breathe deeply and notice how fresh and rich and green the world smells in the rain.
And know that the reason for all these delicious sensations is that God made it so, just for you. Because He knew you’d like it.