The Mysterious Vitality of Trees
As we pursue purgation we notice something new, something that quite possibly wasn’t there before, something drawing us to, “the mysterious vitality of trees, the silent magic of the forest.” Antony the Great (251-356 AD), the pioneer of ancient monasticism who embraced the solitude of nature, was once asked by a group of philosophers, “How do you ever manage to carry on, Father, deprived as you are of the consolation of books?” Antony’s reply, “My book, sir philosopher, is the nature of created things, and it is always at hand when I wish to read the words of God.” St. Columban (543-615 AD), an early Irish missionary echoed Antony, if you want to know the Creator, understand created things. Dallas Willard wrote, “Beauty is, above all, a manifestation of grace, of abundance and generosity. It's why God placed flowers on the earth.” In the beauty of the wilderness there is grace, grace to heal, preserve, even transform. The wind delights us. The stars hold us. We discover that being alone in a field of wildflowers or resting our feet in a gentle stream are not just moments of delight but moments of grace. Being in nature becomes a new kind of spiritual practice, one that we long to weave with greater frequency into our pattern of life with Christ.