Recently, at Shekina in Pai, Chinua guided a meditation on Psalm 104, introducing it as a hybrid meditation between Lectio Divina and contemplation of nature. He read the Psalm through and then we each chose something in the world around us to focus on and absorb, asking ourselves about how this piece of nature spoke about the attributes of God.
First of all, what a Psalm! It’s really long and I encourage you to read it. Here are some snippets:
He makes the clouds his chariot
He rides on the wings of the wind
The trees of the Lord are watered abundantly
The cedars of Lebanon that he planted
In them the birds build their nests
The stork has her home in the fir trees
I will sing to the Lord for as long as I live
I will sing praise to my God as long as I have my being
May my mediation be pleasing to him
For I rejoice in the Lord
Sitting with the greenest fields and mountains all around us, with birdsong in my ears, these words washed over me like water. I felt lifted, as I always do, by scripture in this quiet setting where we only hear the words and don’t share our opinions on them (at that moment). The words themselves are full and strong and pure.
Then, for my contemplation of nature, I chose a small, purple set of flowers that grow on one of our trees. In thinking about what this flower spoke about the heart of God, I was filled with the strongest love. Flowers! I pictured flowers springing from the heart of God in all their delicacy and color. That he made these things which serve such a practical purpose (to spread pollen and attract bees and butterflies) and yet our eyes love them, that he made this partnership between us and the beauty of the world speaks of a great tenderness and love for beauty that goes beyond any of my own love or desire to create. How could I shrink in shame from a being who made flowers? He reveals his love for me in feeding the longing for beauty with something as lovely as a flower. How can that not fill me, enclose me?
In our contemplation of nature mediations at Shekina, we often think of how the piece of nature that we are contemplating is like God and unlike God. As we sat in silence, I thought of God, this eternal love and being, and how being eternal means that he is eternally young and eternally ancient. The flowers I held in my hand would only ever be young, then die and wither. But God, though his heart is young and rejoices with the blooming of each flower, also is ancient, with the wisdom of the ages and the understanding of every single happening on the earth and beyond it. The flower is not God, the flower did not make God, but something of who he is springs into the world every time a flower blossoms, and this blooming speaks of him, all around the world, every day.