Listening for God in Nature

Listening for God in Nature - autumn leaves

My love of nature began when I was a young child nurtured through the witness of my parents’ respect and awe of creation in our own backyard. Avid gardeners, they spent their free time designing and creating beautiful gardens, flowerbeds, and sanctuary nature nooks in our backyard that magnified the natural beauty of the Louisiana landscape.

Their craft of cultivating the soil brought the magnificence of creation close up to my eyes as a child. Strategically planted butterfly gardens drew dozens of butterflies and hummingbirds to drink nectar, which gave us a chance to see the uniqueness and intricacy of God’s creatures up close, showing me that we, too, as humans are unique creations. Flowers and plants that somehow survived extreme heat at times and deluges of Louisiana rain at others taught me the value of having deep roots to withstand anything that life throws our way.

Long before I could put a name to it, my parents taught me the power of pausing and listening for God in nature. Many saints have written about this theme. St. Thérèse of Lisieux and St. John of the Cross wrote about how God opens the “book of nature” to teach us about God and reveal new insights to us. A key conversion moment for St. Ignatius happened alongside the banks of the River Cardoner, where he paused to listen to God in nature. God gave Ignatius a profound understanding that God can be not only in church, but everywhere. This moment birthed the Ignatian principle of finding God in all things.

Listening for God in nature is not just something my parents or the saints teach us to do. If we look at Scripture, we see a multitude of moments in which God teaches through nature: offering Noah a rainbow after the flood, speaking to Moses through a burning bush, and coming to Elijah in the whispering wind.

How do we listen to God in nature? I think Jesus offers us the best model of how to do this. Jesus used the nature around him to teach us. He paused and noticed the beauty of creation around him, and he listened for what it taught us about his Father. Jesus invites us to notice the birds of the air and how much God cares for them and invites us to remember that God cares for us also (Matthew 6:26). He teaches us through the tiniest seed, the mustard seed, that the smallest act of faith can birth the magnitude of God’s Kingdom into our world (Matthew 13:31–32). Jesus teaches the value of an intimate relationship with God by using the image of the vine and the branches (John 15:1–17).

I invite you today to listen for God in nature by using Jesus’ model. Live your life. Allow moments of pause. Notice the splendor of God’s creation around you. Reflect on what God is teaching you through visual reminders in the beauty of nature. I assure you God has much to teach us if we simply pause to listen.

About Becky Eldredge 115 Articles
Becky Eldredge is a writer and spiritual director in Baton Rouge, LA. The author of Busy Lives & Restless Souls, Becky holds Bachelors and Masters Degrees in Education from Louisiana State University and a Masters in Pastoral Studies from Loyola University New Orleans. She has her Certificate in Spiritual Direction from Spring Hill College. Becky has been involved in ministry for more than 15 years, with the majority of her work in retreat ministry and adult faith formation. While ministry is one of her passions, her greatest joy is sharing life with her husband, Chris, and her children, Brady, Abby, and Mary.

9 Comments on Listening for God in Nature

  1. God in nature as an artist I trill at the beauty offered to me. Only if we stop to see it. When ever I see something that stops me in my tracks because of it’s beauty – I praise Him and tell look at what you’ve done..not as a reminder but as a prayer that fills my soul my spirit with His grander. As a RN the complexity of the human body amazed me and was again Look at what you’ve done. In my spirit and journey I remind Him in prayer Look at what you’ve done. I am so proud of Him for all and I am so grateful to the gifts He gives so freely.

  2. Beautifully said. 🙏🏻 I feel the presence Of God every time I work in my gardens, walk in the woods, hiking the mountains, watching the birds at my feeders, looking up at the sun, the sound of the rain….sunrises, sunsets
    Every moment in Nature is a moment in gratitude for his presence in my life and beautiful surroundings 🙏🏻❤️

  3. Thanks Becky. I have shared similar reflections to yours in the Canadian Jesuit blog, igNation.ca. On July 23/18 the blog posted my article, Stations of Creation. You use the words, “pause to listen to God in nature.” I use the words, “stop, look and see the presence of God in nature.” In childhood I too fell in love with the awesome beauty of God in nature.

  4. Here in South Dakota, the first frost could come any night now. These past few warm days have been spent preparing my garden for the approaching dormant season. An important part of the ritual garden clearing is the expression of gratitude. Before and during the uprooting of each plant, I speak to it, thanking it for its fruitfulness over the summer and for being a blessing to me and many others (as I regularly donate the abundance to the needy in our community). I express my gratitude to God for His generosity in giving each garden gift. I might be the one who plants, weeds, and harvests, but God is the Master Gardener, growing it all.

  5. Thanks, Becky, for that lovely reminder to pause and find God in His beautiful creation. I find I can most ardently praise the Lord when I thank Him for all His creations. When I get to work every morning, I always walk in from the front of the building, down a brick pathway through myrtle and magnolia trees, saying hi to the squirrels and cardinals that abound. This morning I took note of the first falling leaves — red, green, yellow on one little leaf. Beautiful! Many thanks for your article!

  6. What good role models your parents were. Reading about them I remembered how I learned about loving God’s creation in much the same way. The gardening wasn’t always easy & I think I learned patience & persistence in that garden. I loved it when my dad bought yet another dogwood tree, finding a new spot in the yard where THIS one would survive the LA heat, or mom treating black spot on the roses only to finally admit defeat & plant a new bush.

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