I’m a child again!
Creation speaks before me
I am mesmerised!
I wrote a haiku of how I feel right now, and that is, specifically, like a child again! I never thought I would hear myself saying that, let alone mentioning it in a reflection, in my 50s!
This doesn’t mean that I have suddenly gone back to my 1970s childhood. I am not climbing trees and making dens again, but, through a love of nature, I have suddenly been awakened to the greatness of God.
My soul is at peace when I am outdoors, away from the hustle and bustle of office life, distanced from the gadgets and distractions of modern living, and connecting to the simple, intricate detail of the natural world that breathes before me.
This July, I am taking on the London to Paris bike ride, and I’ve been riding longer distances than normal to build up my stamina. Recently, I had a wonderful morning of worship from the saddle and pedals of my bike – a whole two hours and nine minutes of praise, prayer and thanksgiving. Admittedly, I did get a few funny looks from motorists at traffic lights as I smiled at them while I sang!
It’s easy to go through each day surrounded by difficult news that can take over our whole being, making us feel insecure and fearful. We can forget to thank God for his joy, and to receive that joy. I’m not dismissing our difficulties, but I am acknowledging that God helps us to cope. By putting our trust in him, like a child, and giving thanks in everything, we can receive his love and find peace.
Children are often inquisitive. They are keen to learn and not afraid to ask difficult questions with untarnished innocence. Time in the garden, walks along town or city streets or through parks or open countryside and riding my bike have become like opening an encyclopaedia for the first time. There is such beauty in front of me, in God’s living, breathing creation, beauty that is new for me to learn about, to stand in awe of, and to marvel at the extent of God’s love it shows to us.
In Matthew 18:3 Jesus says, ‘Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven’ (NIV). Maybe my faith has become childlike.
The reality is that many of the plants, birds and other wildlife around me have always been there. But they have been unnoticed, ignored and unappreciated. They are a testament to God’s love. I can put aside the ways of the world in a moment and focus on the beauty around me, innocent and open-hearted, learning to appreciate the little things and to trust in God with my whole being, to become humble in God’s presence, to refocus on what is important in life, and to receive joy each day. I hope over this summer period that you get a chance to do the same.
This reflection was written by Stephen Allen for our Wild Christian email, ‘nature and summer’. Stephen is a nature lover, creative writer and methodist local preacher. He is the Environmental Lead for his Circuit of Churches and has played a key role in getting his own church to the Eco Church bronze award and another three churches registered. More thoughts, poems, images, prayers and music on Stephen’s journey of faith can be explored at: journeyinginfaith.co.uk