By Christopher Cudworth
As a person with a lifelong interest in nature and especially birds, the outdoors has always felt like a holy place to me.
These instincts were later affirmed in my faith studies. While researching my book The Genesis Fix: A Repair Manual for Faith in the Modern Age (currently being revised for release on Amazon.com) I read the bible from cover to cover. Then I read the Bible all over again in a church-led project called Reading the Bible in 90 Days.
What I noticed both times was the baseline relationship between nature and God. That is not to say that nature IS God, or that God IS nature. Instead what I learned is that God and Jesus consistently use nature to exemplify and illustrate spiritual principles.
In particular Jesus taught using parables based on examples from nature. The parable of the mustard seed growing from a tiny object to a great tree illustrates the power of faith. The parable of yeast in the dough speaks to the fact that faith leavens the kingdom of God.
That relationship between nature and God made me feel good about skipping church now and then to get out in the woods and fields where nature speaks to us in a completely different language. After all, we can’t depend upon just words to make sense of this world. We need to see, feel and experience life in order to fill and fuel or souls.
Which is why the Church of the Morton Arboretum is a legitimate concept. My late wife and I would go there each season to celebrate the changing weather. I still go there with friends and my companion to immerse the mind in something other than contentious battles over who owns what in faith, politics and the environment.
Discovering the amazing detail and complexity of a simple autumn leaf can free the mind to let God in. That’s how it should be, and always will be.
By Christopher Cudworth
For many years a beautiful ceramic hung on the wall of our kitchen. It featured an elegantly composed design of grapes and vines. The wall on which it hung was the entryway to the basement. We looked at that grape ceramic every day and walked by it perhaps 1000 times over the years.
The pocket door that led to the basement had a broken latch. It was therefore hard to pull it out from the wall. In fact that door had not been closed in nearly five years. Every time I tried pulling it out there seemed to be something stopping it. The door felt stuck.
Finally curiosity forced me to take a closer look at how the door worked, and why it seemed so stuck. Using an LED flashlight, I shone the beam between the wall and the pocket door. The mystery was solved.
When we hung that ceramic on the wall the nail had pierced the wall and embedded its point in the surface of the door. It basically nailed the door in place.
I took the ceramic down and pulled the nail out of the door. The pocket door easily slid out of the wall.
We had a good laugh thinking about the many times I had tugged and tried to get that door to work. We’d assumed the problem was insufficient leverage from the broken latch.
That wasn’t it at all. It took a look inside the door to figure out the simple solution to the pocket door problem.
There are quite a few things like that in life. We imagine things holding us back or keeping us stuck in place. Usually the solutions are much simpler than we’ve taught ourselves to think. Slowing down and actually taking a look at the situation can often reveal the answer to our inner questions, those things that make us doubt ourselves or make us too proud to question our self-perceptions. Little flaws can cause our whole world to stick.
It’s always worth a second look.
Christopher Cudworth’s book The Right Kind of Pride features insights on how to face life’s challenges and make the most of life’s opportunities. It’s available on Amazon.com. This blog continues the vein of thoughts and insights gleaned from 8 years of cancer survivorship and all that it taught and wrought.