25 April 2012

The Other Book

P3190019In Scotland, the people of God are the ‘people of the Book’. It’s a moniker that points to the Reformation principle of the centrality of the Bible. Augustine wrote about two books, not only the Book of Scripture but also the Book of Nature:

Some people, in order to discover God, read books.
But there is a great book:
the very appearance of created things.
Look above you! Look below you!
Note it. Read it.  (Sermon, Mai, 126)

I get to read chapters of The Other Book most days. The other morning, I paddled my canoe out onto a cold, mirror-calm loch in the early morning sunshine. A short-earred owl was hunting the banks; a pair of black-throated divers took flight as I rounded a headland; geese circled, calling, overhead; pairs of mergansers, mallards and eider swam nearby. The fish were rising. The previous day I’d walked up behind a local hill and watched golden eagles hunting on and off for an hour on the same slope being patrolled by hen harriers. All of these things filled me with joy – and turned my heart to the Creator, who has founded the earth in wisdom.

God’s power and presence are mediated to us in the things that he has made. I am blessed to live in a place where the book is open in front of me every day. But, even in a city the book can be read. In the park in the grass is a world of many creatures. Overhead, peregrine falcons and kestrels hunt, even in urban environments. Take time to look up, or down, and you’ll see them. Look above you! Look below you!