Planet Earth II captivated audiences with its high-resolution shots of mountains, plains, forests, and every creature that inhabits them. Millions of viewers, including Dominican student brothers, were fascinated by the opportunity to peer into the wonders of creation. BBC America attempted to express this common human reaction to the beauty of nature with their hashtag: #GatherTogether. When we encounter this beauty of nature, we experience a wonder and a delight that can both refresh and elevate us.
While hiking recently, I came out from under verdant trees whose leaves shone with the reflected sunlight of a cloudless day and crested the summit of a mountain. I stood suddenly surrounded by views of other mountains and valleys stretching into the horizon as a powerful wind swept the spot. I was surrounded by the sheer grandeur of nature. Every direction I turned there was beauty to catch the eye.
No wonder men have mistaken the things of creation for gods. They saw how good and beautiful is creation, but their minds and hearts failed to make the next step. “If through delight in the beauty of these things,” Scripture says, “men assumed them to be gods, let them know how much better than these is their Lord, for the author of beauty created them” (Wisdom 13: 1-3). The beauty of creation tells us of the surpassing beauty of its Author. Standing there and contemplating creation, it seemed so clear, so self-evident, that God exists and that He is good and that He loves us. God has left us the beauty of creation as a sign of His goodness and love, for “from the greatness and beauty of created things comes a corresponding perception of their Creator” (Wisdom 13:5).
Delight, then, is our proper response to the beauty of creation. But there is a corresponding truth that is more powerful still. God’s own response to His creation is also delight. God delights in what He has made: “For you love all things that exist, and you loathe none of the things which you have made, for you would not have made anything if you had hated it” (Wisdom 11:24). God loves all that He has made. He counts it a joy to create and to create things good. Most of all He delights in us, His sons and daughters, those whom He made very good and remade, “born anew, not of perishable seed but of imperishable” (1 Peter 1:23). “The Lord takes delight in his people” whom He has made beautiful (Psalm 149:4).
If the Lord Himself delights in what He has made, we ought to follow His example. Delight in the beauty of creation raises us to wonder and delight in God, the source of all that is. Dante puts it best: “Reader, raise your eyes with me,…And fall enamored of that Master’s art whose gaze will never part from what He’s made, so deeply does He love it in His heart “ (Paradiso, Canto X, Lines 7-8, 10-12).
See how full of love for us is His heart, and fall enamored of our Master’s art.
Image: Joseph Wright, An Italian Landscape With Mountains And A River (copyright info)