Orthodox America

  Part III God in Nature

Dear children,

You have begun your studies, but all wisdom is from God, Who created the world, human beings, His most loved creature, and Who rules over everything.

Have you noticed how wonderful God's world is? How everything in it, from the tiniest insect to the great expanse of the sky and its heavenly bodies witnesses to the great wisdom, benevolence and power of its Creator and His providence for the universe.

We are convinced of this when we marvel at the wonders of nature. We hear of this from scholars who study nature. This is also clear to us when we read Holy Scripture.

Nature is everything which exists in the universe, the whole world, all a creation of God. Not only the earth with everything that is on it, but also the countless stars dotting the night sky: we call all of this nature.

We, humans, primarily turn our attention to that which we see before our eyes. Nothing is as awe inspiring as the starry sky during quiet clear evenings and nights. How can we help but admire the moonlit night when the pale, silvery rays of the moon light up our sleeping world, giving it a mystical, magical hue. These wonderful scenes amaze our minds, sweeten our senses, and compel us to feel great respect and awe before the Almighty and All-Wise Creator of the universe.

Who of you, dear children, has not seen the wonderful, inspiring sight of a sunrise? Early morning comes - it is still dark and shadowy everywhere, a little cool. Then towards the east we spot a thin line of the distant sunrise. The sky gradually lightens and turns rosy, the mountain peaks turn golden pink, and then, finally, the sun rises on the horizon... All that is alive on earth would not live if the Almighty Lord had not arranged for its existence. He made all of this, and in so magnificent a way!  He places that huge, unspeakably hot sphere in the sky, the sun, and commanded those on earth to look upon it and turn toward it in a way that not a single place on earth would be deprived of at least a small portion of its light, warmth and joy. He commanded it to appear during the day, so that you, dear children, and all people and everything that lives could feel heat and light, to gladden their existence. He, our Lord God, is immeasurably good and merciful, and eternally loves not only all people, but also the tiniest insect - even it is taken care of, and given all that it seeks.

Even in the formidable and harsh displays of nature, in thunder, lightning, and snowstorms we find evidence of God's love. The sun is hot and powerful, but left to shine all the time, it would burn everything and leave nothing alive; so the Lord covered it with clouds, and with His lightning and thunder He burns and cleanses the air of all filth which has evaporated into the air, making it harmful to breathe. If God burns such mindless earthly filth in such a terrifying way, it is hard to imagine how the Lord will destroy willful, consciously done evil, if it finds its home in a man's soul, and such a one spreads it about in the form of sin and criminal deeds.

A winter storm - is it not also the benevolence of God? Without winter our fields and meadows would not grow over with grass or grain. The frost would kill the grass roots and the seeds which we have thrown into the ground. So the Lord commanded the winds to carry and spread snow over the field, to cover the grass, the seeds, and that sweet ladybug that once fluttered from one field flower to another, and now sleeps, still under a leaf, awaiting the life giving rays of the spring sunshine.

Translated by Maria Naumenko from Pastyrskiye Besedy s Det'mi, Moscow 1997 (reprinted from a 1901 edition).

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