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God’s Sacred Book of Nature 

Tuesday, June 13, 2023

Richard Rohr believes that nature has been revealing God long before the Bible and Church came to be:  

Nature itself is the primary Bible. The world is the locus of the sacred and provides all the metaphors that the soul needs for its growth.  

If you scale chronological history down to the span of one year, with the Big Bang on January 1, then our species, Homo sapiens, doesn’t appear until 11:59 p.m. on December 31. That means our written Bible and the Church appeared in the last nanosecond of December 31. I can’t believe that God had nothing to say until the last moment. Rather, as both Paul and Thomas Aquinas say, God has been revealing God’s love, goodness, and beauty since the very beginning through the natural world of creation (see Romans 1:20). “God looked at everything God had made and found it very good” (Genesis 1:31).  

Acknowledging the intrinsic value and beauty of creation, elements, plants, and animals is a major paradigm shift for most Western and cultural Christians. We limited God’s love and salvation to our own human species, and even then, we did not have enough love to go around for all of humanity! God ended up looking quite miserly and inept, to be honest.  

Read, instead, the Book of Wisdom: 

How dull are all people who, from the things-that-are, have not been able to discover God-Who-Is, or by studying the good works have failed to recognize the Artist…. Through the grandeur and beauty of the creatures we may, by analogy, contemplate their Author (13:1, 5). [1] 

Author Barbara Mahany reads God’s sacred Book of Nature in her own backyard and throughout creation: 

I read intently the Book of Nature, even here in my humble plot of earth … where a rambunctious tucked-away garden offers me respite and a place for genuflection… 

Into its pages I step in the murky hour just before the dawn, before the rising sun stages its rehearsal, bleeds pink into the edge of night. It’s where you might find me, nose pressed to the glass, when the softening winter sky at last exhales and the first tumble of snowflakes fall, blanketing the world in a quiet like no other. Or, at twilight, the in-between hour when day dissolves into darkness, when on a summer’s eve I surrender to the rising surround sound of crickets and keep watch till the starkeepers trot out the stars….

And so the beautiful, the majestic, the intimate, and the sweeping is pressed onto the pages of the librum naturae, the Book of Nature. [2] 

Mahany shares this observation from Evelyn Underhill (1875–1941), an English theologian and mystic:  

The very meaning of Creation is seen to be an act of worship, a devoted proclamation of the splendour, the wonder, and the beauty of God. In this great Sanctus, all things justify their being and have their place. [3]  


[1] Adapted from Richard Rohr, Essential Teachings on Love, selected by Joelle Chase and Judy Traeger (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2018), 30-31. 

[2] Barbara Mahany, The Book of Nature: The Astonishing Beauty of God’s First Sacred Text (Minneapolis, MN: Broadleaf Books, 2023), 15, 16.  

[3] Evelyn Underhill, Worship (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1937), 5. Quoted in Mahany, Book of Nature, 18. 

Image credit: A path from one week to the next— Izzy Spitz, Untitled. CAC Staff, Untitled. Izzy Spitz, Untitled. Watercolor. Used with permission. Click here to enlarge image

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