“To ‘see God in nature,’ to attain a radiant consciousness of the ‘otherness’ of natural things, is the simplest and commonest form of illumination. Most people, under the spell of emotion or of beauty, have known flashes of rudimentary vision of this kind. Where such a consciousness is recurrent, as t is in many poets, there results that partial yet often overpowering apprehension of the Infinite Life immanent in all living things, which some modern writers have dignified by the name of ‘nature mysticism.’ Where it is raised to the highest denomination, till the veil is obliterated by the light behind, and ‘faith has vanished into sight,’ as sometimes happened to Blake, we reach the point at which the mystic swallows the poet. …
“Blake conceived it was his vocation to bring this mystical illumination, this heightened vision of reality, within the range of ordinary men: to ‘clean the doors of perception’ of the race. They thought him a madman for his pains.” ~Evelyn Underhill
God in Nature
It is true, even today, that those who wish to gain spiritual enlightenment are advised to get close to nature. This is as it should be. It is a good approach. Man has, unfortunately, moved far from God over the centuries. Nature has not. So in many ways, nature is closer to God than we are. That doesn’t mean nature is better. It doesn’t mean nature is more important. It just means that nature continues to operate within the laws of God. All laws of nature are in harmony with those of God. While man’s laws are often contrary to those of God. So by getting into nature, we move closer to God.
Do not confuse tins with nature worship. I am not promoting Pantheism. Nature is definitely not God. While in a sense, all things come from God, the physical universe is the creation of the Demiurge. You could think of it as a part of God that had been detached from the whole, like an arm that has been amputated. Yet getting closer to nature and away from man-made things does help bring us closer to God. Even though nature (or Gaia, if you prefer) is part of the fallen universe of matter, it still stays within the Law of God. We relearn the Law of God when we learn to be close to nature.
How to See God in Nature
When I say it helps to get close to nature, I mean in a benevolent and helpful way. A torturer is close to the person he is torturing. That is the wrong kind of close. In the United States, the Corp of Engineers is getting close to nature in one way when it builds dams, levies, and bridges. That too is the wrong kind of close. It is treating nature as an enemy. It is fighting a war with nature rather than trying to become friends with her. That approach has resulted in hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, and droughts. Nature does fight back. The Gaia mind is a real thing. And she is no longer being very tolerant of those who abuse her.
The correct way to see God in nature is to take a walk in the woods or a park. You could hike a mountain trail, or climb the mountains. You can walk along the seashore. But that is just the first step. Your attitude when you do those things matters. If you are climbing a mountain with the attitude of defeating an obstacle, that is the wrong attitude. If you are hiking through the forest just to get big numbers on your Fitbit, that is the wrong attitude. The correct attitude is to observe nature, breath it in, take part in it. Try sitting on a bench or rock and watching the squirrels and birds. Practice thinking peaceful, friendly thoughts and see if they move closer to you. Observe how the animals and plants coexist as part of a whole, not as adversaries. Yes, hug a tree. It won’t hurt at all. Better yet, hold your hand near the leaves of a tree and offer it some of your energy. The tree will probably send you some of its energy. Through this, you are learning about nature as it really is, but on a subconscious level.
If you climb a mountain, feel the strength of the rock. Breathe in the fresh air, and appreciate it. Look around at the things below. Observe how the mountain fits in with the environment around it. Notice how the vegetation changes as you climb higher.
If you are on the seashore, watch the waves hitting the beach. Notice the rhythm of their flow, the harmony of it. Look at the sunlight glistening off the water. Breathe the freshness of the salty air. Become one with the rhythm of the waves and the airflow. Become one with nature. See God in nature.
Beyond God in Nature
As Ms. Underhill says, getting close to God in nature is a good step along the path to spiritual enlightenment. But much like practicing meditation, it is just a step, not the whole stairway. All steps along that path are important, but we should never stop after taking a few steps. We need to continue beyond getting close to nature. And depending on where we live, it may be impossible to do. But like any other step, we can work around it, though that may make things more difficult. The most important thing is that we try to see God in Nature when possible, and get close to nature. That may mean just visiting a city park occasionally. That is still better than nothing. But also, don’t stop with becoming one with nature. Move on to being one with the sun, one with the universe of matter, then one with the universe of spirit. Then you will truly be seeing God in Nature, as well as beyond nature.