The Beauty of the Earth

Finding joy in witnessing and being grateful for the beauty of creation through the Creator’s eyes.

In the beginning God created the Earth, the Heavens, the skies and the lands.  In Genesis we read that after creating the Earth, he created herbs yielding seed and trees yielding fruit, creatures in the water and fowl in the air, beasts of the Earth and every creeping thing.   And when he was finished, he beheld that it was “very good.”  

Think with me for a moment and try to remember something you worked hard to do or create for someone you loved.  Did you stand back when you finished and thought to yourself “this is good.”  

Do you remember the reaction of your loved one?  Were they able to see your hard work and love?  Were they able to see it as you did?  Were they grateful?  

One more time, think with me, can you remember a time when you were amazed by the beauty of the Earth?  Maybe a sunset, a beautiful view after a hike, an elevated overlook into the Earth’s vastness or a walk near the ocean.  

Recall who you were with, where you were and what you saw.  Try to remember the feelings you had.  Did the time seem to stop for a minute?  Did your cares slip away?  Could you see God’s creation through His eyes?  Were you grateful?  

I believe there is great joy in witnessing the beauty of the Earth through God’s eyes and being grateful for His creation.  

There is a saying the we should “stop and smell the roses.”  In our busy lives, sometimes it is difficult to “stop,” be present, and take time to enjoy God’s creations.  But I believe that is one of the core principles of the living a joyful life.  I know at times it seems easy, and sometimes it seems nearly impossible, but I believe that it starts with a small simple change in perspective.  

My office was recently moved from Murray to West Valley.  Despite the efforts of my teammates and me to move us anywhere other than West Valley, the decision was made and this last summer we moved.  The building is nice in a business park where the Jordan River forms small lakes and a golf course runs along its banks, however, our commutes are longer and it seems so remote compared to Murray.    

The last few weeks, a very large flock of Canadian Geese have stormed the castle.  Pooping on the sidewalks, the fairways and greens and even on our cars.  They sometimes gather around the door where we enter and like to hiss when you try to shoo them away to get in.  

On Thursday, as I pulled into the parking lot, the sunrise caught my attention and I walked to edge of the river, through lots of poop I might add, and I noticed the geese in groups on the water.  It was windy Thursday, blowing in the beginning of this latest storm, and I watched a large group of geese take flight and quickly vanished high in the sky.  It took 2 more groups of geese before I stopped and recognized what was happening.  It was as if everything suddenly made perfect sense.  

These geese on their yearly migration south, stopped for a break to regain strength and feed on the bugs in and around the river.  They are large birds and I imagine it takes a lot of energy to lift them up into the sky to make their next leg south.  The storm blowing in, came from the north with its cold air, but also brought with it an opportunity for the geese to lift them up and help carry them south.  I was floored with the beauty of realization that this was not by chance.  Within about 20 minutes, the entire flock was gone.   The rain has even started to wash away their poop.   There was an amazing change in my perspective as the once annoying flock of birds turned into a beautiful display of nature in cooperation.  For a brief minute, I saw the beauty of this through God’s eyes and beheld that it was “very good.”  And I was grateful.  

As your perspective changes, it becomes easy to recognize God’s hand in creation.  

I recently listened to an audio book on the “Hidden Life of Trees.”  In the book, a German forest manager describes what we know about trees from science, but conveys it in a beautiful story about how trees talk, smell, taste and even form memories.  In forests, trees work together in amazing ways to form and cooperate in communities.  They help their neighbor trees when one them is under attack by insects or mold, by sharing valuable water, glucose and minerals through intricate root and fungal networks so that the tree can use its energy to fight off the attack and recover.   In wind storms, they are pushed against their neighbor’s branches.  The trees lean on each other as if arm in arm (or branch in branch) to absorb the gusts of wind to protect from being broken in the wind.   

One of the most amazing stories from the book is how trees participate in weather.  During the heat of the day, trees “sweat” through their leaves to cool themselves off.  This also keeps the air and the ground moist under the trees, protecting the valuable stores of water and sugar stored in the ground and in the roots of the trees.  The fascinating thing is, the sweat given off from trees includes a compound that makes the water molecules “sticky.”    The moist air from a forest can create clouds much more efficiently than through evaporation from a body of water alone.   The clouds from trees move in and up land to deliver water to higher elevations, effectively pumping water uphill.  This process repeats again and again until water is pumped to the highest elevations, ensuring that trees everywhere receive valuable water.   After listening to this book, it is hard not to see the beauty of God’s creation when I look at trees.  I have even considered giving them a hug to thank them for their contributions to life.  Tree Hugger!  

Let me finish by telling you about my obsession with rocks.  I have loved rocks as long as I can remember.  I bring rocks home with me from many of the places I have been.  I especially love smooth stones you find near oceans, lakes or rivers.  Most of the time, you will find me with a rock or two in my pocket.

I have recently started practicing the art of rock stacking (which is different from cairns for marking trails).  The Zen practice of rock stacking involves focus and concentration to find the center points of a stack and the balance point that each rock has to maintain for the stack to stay standing.  The art of rock stacking challenges the stacker to create rock stacks that are visually exciting.  Since starting rock stacking, my love of rocks has deepened profoundly.  In each rock I look for colors, unique shapes and material compositions and I look for imperfections.  I could take a whole hour talking about rocks, but I’ll bring it back to where I began.  Each rock I find has a story of its creation.  Some rocks are better than other sharing their stories than others, but a rock can be a small witness of the beauty of creation.   

Whether through rocks, trees, geese, or something else, there is great beauty in the world and it allows us to feel joy when we view it through the Creators eyes and feel the gratitude that follows when we recognize the incredible gift we have been given.  


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