Recently, my husband, Paul, and I spent a week on the beautiful island of Sark. The island itself is just over, there are no motorised vehicles allowed and no streetlights, earning it the status of the world’s first dark sky island. The way of life is totally alien to most people’s normal routines – nobody locks their doors, everyone travels by bike or on foot, and time is measured by the sound of the church bells and the position of the sun. The pace of life is considerably slower than the normal hectic pace of the average person’s daily life, so much so, we found it took us a couple of days to settle in to island life and be able to appreciate the wonder of the place.
We spent our week hiking and cycling around the island; exploring the numerous coastal paths, bays and caves. It felt like every time we turned a corner there was another breath-taking view to enjoy, from a natural rock pool large enough to swim in which was only accessible by clambering over huge rocks at low tide, to the majesty of the night sky filled with stars and meteors and, even, the Milky Way. Even just sitting outside our rented apartment, eating lobster fresh from the sea with just the sound of the bees buzzing and the gulls screeching, afforded us a unique opportunity to really appreciate the wonders of the natural world that God created.
During our week, I truly felt closer to God than at almost any other time in my life. Through those rugged cliff paths and clear, crystal waters, I heard a calling to embrace life and all the challenges that God places before me. Perhaps you have had a similar experience of God speaking to you through nature. Perhaps you have stood next to a mountain range and felt awe at God’s grandeur, or sat by an ocean basking in God’s peace and felt it enter your spirit. For me, this was a daily occurrence on the island of Sark, and I was reminded of an inscription that can be found on a plaque on another island, Iona, it reads:
“Sitting silently, doing nothing, spring comes and the grass grows.”
It is a reminder that we should all take the time in our busy lives to lay aside our preoccupations and allow ourselves to reconnect with God; to remember to appreciate the beauty and majesty all around us. “In returning and rest you shall be saved,” says God through Isaiah, “In quietness and trust shall be your strength.” There is a divine imperative to down tools and just sit a while.
The Bible is full of stories of people meeting with God powerfully in natural surroundings. I think of Moses and his burning bush in the wilderness, Elijah enduring earthquake and fire on a mountain top and finally hearing God in a gentle whisper of wind, and Jesus going up on a mountain to pray.
We are not all fortunate enough to live somewhere like Sark where God is easy to find in every rocky path, sea view, and starry sky, however, we can all take time to go outside and enjoy what we can – the beautiful autumn colours, the dawn chorus, unexpected warm days. However and wherever you have the chance to get out into the natural world I hope you’ll take it and soak in the beauty of God’s creation. Spend a day away from your normal surroundings and travel to the beach or the mountains or just a field nearby. Maybe it’s enough to put some fresh flowers on the table or nurture a new houseplant. Either way, you’re invited to discover and experience God in a new way. I hope you will accept!
The Reluctant Blogger