“But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish in the sea inform you.” (Job 12:7-10)
“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech.” (Psalm 19: 1-2)
A short essay by Bill Gaultiere – psychologist, pastor, and author – discusses the importance of nature to one’s spiritual life. (https://www.soulshepherding.org/contemplating-god-beauty-nature/)
“Contemplating God in the Beauty of Nature”
“A primary way God nourishes our souls with his loving presence is through the beauty of nature. The face of the Lord shines on his in the sun. The moon and stars remind us that God’s light and love shine to us even in the dark. The Lord is speaking to us and warming us from the heavens, the Psalmist says (Psalm 19:1-6). The joy of the Lord comes to us in splashing waves and playful animals! (Psalm 29:3, 6)
“Throughout the Bible we read testimony of the Lord communicating to us in the skies, ocean waves, breeze rustling through the trees, fields and flowers, and birds that sing cheerfully. Jesus reassures us that our Father in the heavens always near cares for the little sparrows and he cares for us (Matthew 6:26 and 10:29).
“Nature reveals to us God’s beauty, glory, power, wisdom, presence, creativity, and, most of all, his loving care. This is why we’re drawn to spend time in the beauty of nature and to enjoy animals. To talk a walk on a beautiful day, play with your dog in the grass, or hold your cat are reliable ways for many people to connect with God’s loving presence.
“Jesus makes continual use of nature in his parables that welcome us to find life with him in the Kingdom of God. The revelation of God in nature is so poignant and prevailing that the Apostle Paul cautions if we don’t notice and honor our Creator we are without excuse (Romans 1:20).
“The Word of God inspires us to contemplate God in creation. Saint Francis of Assisi and Henri Nouwen are two devoted disciples of Christ who draw our attention to love God by loving his creatures and creation. Below are some of the Bible verses that inspired them. These are followed by Saint Francis’ famous nature hymn: ‘All Creatures of Our God and King’ and a meditation from Henri Nouwen on ‘Being Sisters and Brothers of Nature’.”
Aldersgate UMC has embraced caring for nature as one of its missions, and caring for nature directly applies to landscaping its 1.9 acres of green space.
The original expanses of turf grass with a few trees and shrubs for accent reflected traditional suburban practices, but maintaining that much grass was time-consuming and expensive. It took 3 to 4 hours of mowing each week from spring through fall, 100 pounds of pre-emergent plus fertilizer every spring, and another 100 pounds of fertilizer in the fall. That was the bare minimum to achieve the manicured look of residential lawns. Without a sprinkler system, a stretch of dry weather in the summer would turn the grass brown, a dried-up testament to that type of horticulture.
The vision for Aldersgate Gardens is to benefit the environment and serve the community by providing habitat for wildlife, the opportunity for immersion in nature, and nature-based play for children. Large areas of turf grass are giving way to trees, shrubs, perennials, and even small plots of prairie, but there will still be places to “play with your dog in the grass.”