Seeing God in the Landscape
The Celtic imagination considers sacred places to be “thin,” or places where the veil between the worlds, meaning heaven and earth, seem especially near to each other.
Ninth-century Irish theologian John Scotus Eriugena taught that there are two books of revelation: the book of the scriptures and the book of creation. Both are required to know the fullness of the divine presence.
Just as God can speak through the words of the scriptures, so can we hear the voice of the divine in the elements and in creatures. The landscape can become a place of God’s revelation, or place of divine manifestation. The Celtic monks sought out places in the wilderness to receive this gift of revelation.
In daily life
Make a commitment in the coming days to spend time in nature and be present to it as a place of revelation. Bring the prayers of your heart and ask God for signs and symbols to guide you on the way. Consider making a pilgrimage to a landscape that feels especially sacred to you, whether desert, mountain, sea, river, or plains.
“Go out and stand on the mountain before the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.” Now there was a great wind, so strong that it was splitting mountains and breaking rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of sheer silence.
—1 Kings 19:11–12
Loving Father and Creator of all, we come to you today deeply grateful for your creation. As we look around us we are amazed at the greatness and majesty of all that you have made. Nature around us speaks of your greatness—the vast expanse of the sky, the mountains, trees, lakes, and streams speak of your great design. You have given us such beauty in the colours of the rainbow, the beauty of flowers and fields. Words cannot adequately express the magnificence of all you have created. We join in praise with the writer of the psalms when he says, “O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the Earth.” May we show our love and reverence to you, our Lord, by caring for all that you have created. We humbly give you praise and thanks. Amen.