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Monday, January 19th, 2015

Nature as the First Bible

Monday, January 19, 2015

For what can be known about God is perfectly plain, for God has made it plain. Ever since God created the world, God’s everlasting power and deity is there for the mind to see in all the things that God has created. –Romans 1:20

This amazing, yet all too often ignored, passage says the essential message is written everywhere for all to see, if they indeed want to see.

Both Anthony of the Desert (c. 251-356) and Thomas Aquinas (1224-1274) said there are two books of scripture. The first book of scripture is the natural world, which has existed since the Big Bang 14 billion years ago. The second book of scripture is the written Bible, which has only existed for about 2,000 years. We basically threw out the first book for much of the last 2,000 years, although it got worse after the invention of the printing press. We gave most of our attention to the written book, which has kept us in our limited left brain, outside of direct experience, and with the dualistic mind that the ego always prefers. Mere words, even and most especially “holy words” and authoritative words, when used apart from any experience of an Eternal Word, tend to create argumentative people. The small self loves to use whatever words it needs for purposes of self-protection and self-promotion. The Great Self allows One Eternal Word to override all such tactics because it lives in a much larger field of meaning. Words are often two to three steps removed from true experience.

We did not honor and learn from the first and primary Bible of creation, so how would we know how to honor and properly use the second Bible? We largely mangled and manipulated the written word of God for our own ego purposes, instead of receiving it inside of the mystery, awe, silence, and surrender—which the natural world demands of us and teaches us. Many have said that a fundamental attitude of awe is the primal religious experience and the beginning of the search for God. If we start with mere argument we never leave that battlefield. Imagine a religion called “Aweism”! Instead of wasting time trying to disprove miracles, this religion would be inhabited by people who see that everything is a miracle. Only people who can fully surrender to things beyond themselves can experience awe, wonder, or enchantment.

Spiritual surrender is not giving up, which is the way we usually understand the term. Surrender is entering the present moment, and what is right in front of you, fully and without resistance or attempts at control. In that sense, surrender is almost the exact opposite of giving up. In fact, it is a being given to!

We must know that creation is our first and final cathedral. Nature is the one song of praise that never stops singing, as many of the Psalms say. If you are drawn to “kneel” in this cathedral, you can always talk to a Mystery that is so much larger than yourself. It takes no theology classes whatsoever, no proofs, or arguments. Aweism is the one true religion. All the other native and historical religions merely build upon this primal awe that bows before everything.

Gateway to Silence:
Let all the earth bless the Lord.

Adapted from “Nature and the Soul,” Radical Grace, Vol. 24, No. 3, Summer 2011, pp. 3, 22;

and In the Footsteps of Francis: Awakening to Creation (CD, MP3 download)

Image Credit: The Laas Geel cave paintings (detail), Lass Geel, Somalia, Horn of Africa (9,000–3,000 BCE)
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