Sunday I spent several hours at Bok Tower in Florida, USA. It is a remarkable place for walking in a beautiful garden on top of the 295-foot-high Iron Mountain. It has a famous Carillon (bell tower). I often hear people walking on the tranquil grounds and saying “This is so relaxing.”
Anytime I visit a place that is rich in natural beauty, one of my first reactions is to be silent and then I want to contemplate God’s power and love for his creation.
Silence and contemplation sound like monastic practices don’t they?
I encounter God’s world and I am turned to his divinity. I might say that God’s creation moves the heart in the direction of monasticism — at least for me.
This may not be surprising because seeking God is often given as a mark of the monastic life.
There is a God-created relationship between a heart seeking God and his creation.
St. Paul described the same link when writing about people at the opposite end of the spectrum — people who were not seeking God — people who wanted nothing to do with God.
St. Paul says that awareness of God is so fundamentally tied to the creation that even the wicked cannot claim they never were aware of God existence. “For what can be known about God is evident to them, because God made it evident to them. Ever since the creation of the world, his invisible attributes of eternal power and divinity have been able to be understood and perceived in what he has made. As a result, they have no excuse.” Romans 1:19-20.
How much more does the monastic person see those same invisible attributes and divinity in the natural world. The monastic person encounters God in creation as a way to help form a silent, contemplative heart.