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Posts Tagged ‘Nature’

Well I recently saw Taylor Sheridan’s freshman directorial effort, Wind River.  I miss doing film commentaries (I’m pretty sure it’s been well over a year since my last one), so how about we begin anew with this one?

A snapshot (no spoilers)

The setting of Wind River is the Wyoming Indian Reservation of the same name, located within one of the most remote and desolate regions of the United States.

As is pointed out in the film, this is an area in which Native American women disappear at alarming rates and with disturbing regularity. (more…)

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Letchworth_WaterfallWell, the medievals used to say that God wrote two books: The Book of Scripture (a.k.a. the Bible), and the Book of Nature.  One finds His explicit self-revelation in the former, but hints of both God and His plan are discernible in the latter as well.

Of course, reflective soul that I am, I could not help but think of this during my outing to Letchworth State Park with my family over the weekend.  (By the way: If you’re ever in New York State, do yourself a favor and go there.  It has some gorgeous waterfalls, beautiful foliage, nice walking trails, buildings of historical significance, and a gorge that has earned the nickname “Grand Canyon of the East.”)

Last year I spent a weekend on retreat at a monastery in the country, and I remember looking out one morning at a fine mist hanging over a pond outside.  This got me thinking of that famous passage from St. Luke’s Gospel in which the angel Gabriel announces the birth of Christ to the Blesséd Virgin Mary:

The holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God.

(Luke 1:35)

The hovering mist reminds one of the Holy Spirit — ethereal, invisible, otherworldly, and coming from above — and the body of water, an image of feminine receptivity and fecundity, of the Virgin Mary.

Letchworth_Waterfall 1If a pond can remind one of Mary, how much more a great waterfall, with its majestic beauty and humble greatness?

Letchworth_Waterfall 2Now back to the mist.  Here, as you can see, it ascends from the water, as opposed to hovering over it.  Yet here also can we find an analogy pointing to the divine partnership with Mother Mary.  Jesus Christ, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, issued forth from the womb of Mary in His Incarnation, as the God-Man, “as a sacrificial offering to God for a fragrant aroma” (Ephesians 5:2, italics mine).

As I’ve said before: Who ever said nature isn’t “evangelical”?

Thanks for reading.  Here are some more pics, if you’re interested:

Rainbow over the waterfall

Letchworth_Rainbow

A “trickle”

Letchworth_Trickle

A couple pictures taken around the gorge

Letchworth_Gorge

Letchworth_Gorge2Stone picnic table where we ate lunch 🙂

Letchworth_Stone Table

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On a weekend getaway in the Garden State.  Couldn’t help snapping a shot of this beautiful (if a little faint) bow shining over the hills behind a train station in Dover, NJ last night, after a day of on-and-off rain.

Rainbow_Dover

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Just some pictures from my daily travels:

SkyAn interesting cloud formation (center)…

Water…and the surface of a small lake.

The generative powers of both air and water (not to mention their respective beauties) have been known to mankind for ages.  And in John 3:5, Jesus describes Baptism in terms of being “born of water and Spirit” (air, or breath, has often been used as a symbol for the Spirit).

Who ever said nature wasn’t “evangelical”?

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Dwyer_SunsetAh, nature’s art … the best things in life really are free.

Photo taken at a Batavia Muckdogs game, at Dwyer Stadium in Batavia, NY

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Another video from Brett Fawcett, one of my favorite Youtubers.  Not agreeing or disagreeing, just thought this would be some interesting post-Earth-Day “food for thought.”

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tree

Yeah, it’s a little late in the day.  Earth Day will be over by the time many readers get to this.  Sorry to be so late…but life does tend to get busy, as you undoubtedly know.

I want to start with a quick reflection on biodegradable urns, which seem to have become popular of late.  My understanding is that these allow the ashes of the deceased to be mixed with seeds and planted in the ground so that, basically, our loved ones’ graves are marked with trees instead of headstones.

The rationale goes something like this: “If you become a tree, at least you’re giving back to the earth.  What good is your body if it’s just rotting in a casket?”

Can we say this perspective is understandable?  Sure.  But I would like to present another perspective for consideration.

We have all dealt with the death of loved ones at some time or other.  As we mourn their passing, we remember them as unique individuals, of the times we enjoyed with them, etc.  When you think about it, don’t your loved ones mean more to you, even in death, than material to be used as fertilizer?

tombstone

It is good for us to bury our dead.  It fulfills an emotional need that humans have to know that they can always come to a certain spot and say, “George (hypothetical name) is here.”  Whether we visit George’s tombstone every year on his birthday, bring flowers to lay on his grave, etc., we bear witness to a vitally important element of the human experience: When our fellow human beings die, our relationship with them goes on.  It changes, but it somehow abides.

Okay…I know this all probably sounds very anti-environmental, catering to human neediness rather than promoting good stewardship of our planet.  But this is not the case at all…and that’s precisely where I intend to bring my faith into this discussion.

We human beings are both physical and spiritual creatures.  So we can ask, “What is it our connection with the material world?”

The answer: Our bodies.

Resurrection

Christian belief in the Resurrection could hardly be any more affirmative of the body’s dignity and importance.  Jesus Christ, as true God and true man, rose bodily (see my post “Jesus’ Resurrected Body — What’s the Difference?” for more on this: https://intothedance.wordpress.com/2013/04/06/jesus-resurrected-body-whats-the-difference/) after having undergone death and burial.

As Christians, we bury our dead in the earth in coffins because this is our way of following Christ, Who endured bodily death before rising again.  This is a witness to the expectancy of our own resurrection, which will come at the end of time.

It is true that we will be raised to a whole new life — in fact, a whole new kind of life.  We are born into the natural world, but we are destined for the supernatural.

But does this mean that the material world doesn’t matter, or that we should neglect it?  Emphatically not.  Anyone who knows, for example, of our recent Pope Benedict XVI’s many addresses on the Christian responsibility to exercise good stewardship over creation will see this for the falsehood that it is.

Here is what the Catechism has to say about it:

The seventh commandment enjoins respect for the integrity of creation. Animals, like plants and inanimate beings, are by nature destined for the common good of past, present, and future humanity. Use of the mineral, vegetable, and animal resources of the universe cannot be divorced from respect for moral imperatives. Man’s dominion over inanimate and other living beings granted by the Creator is not absolute; it is limited by concern for the quality of life of his neighbor, including generations to come; it requires a religious respect for the integrity of creation. (CCC 2415) (italics mine)

But the way to do this is not by allowing ourselves to be absorbed into the earth, thus in some sense forfeiting our humanity.  Rather, we must exercise the stewardship that God entrusted to Adam in Eden with a view to the coming of “a new heaven and a new earth” (Revelation 21:1).

That said, I should return to my comment about humanity being made for something higher than this world.  This does not mean that we are destined to forever leave the earth behind.  Rather, the world we currently know becomes — to borrow an analogy that Peter Kreeft uses in his great book “Love is Stronger Than Death” — as the womb becomes for us after we are born.  It is still a part of our world, but it is just that — a part of something much, much bigger.

Kreeft cites an interesting passage from C.S. Lewis’ book “Miracles” in the fourth chapter of his book.  I’d like to close with that:

… Come out, look back, and then you will see … this astonishing cataract of bears, babies, and bananas: this immoderate deluge of atoms, orchids, oranges, cancers, canaries, fleas, gases, tornadoes and toads. … Offer her neither worship nor contempt.  Meet her and know her.  If we are immortal, and if she is doomed (as the scientists tell us) to run down and die, we shall miss this half-shy and half-flamboyant creature, this ogress, this hoyden, this incorrigible fairy, this dumb witch.  But the theologians tell us that she, like ourselves, is to be redeemed.  The “vanity” to which she was subjected was her disease, not her essence.  She will be cured, but cured in character: not tamed (Heaven forbid) nor sterilized.  We shall still be able to recognize our old enemy, friend, playfellow and foster-mother, so perfected as to be not less, but more, herself.  And that will be a merry meeting.

All images from Wikipedia

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