The cold rains continue here on the west coast, although now that we have passed the Winter Solstice there are hints of more frequent sunny interludes and longer days. We have had a relatively dry winter here so far compared to previous ones. And in light of the ice storms, snowstorms, and bitterly cold temperatures covering the weather map across Canada and the United States these days I most certainly have little to complain about.
Mother Nature keeps us humble doesn’t she? Can we continue to delude ourselves into thinking that we are in control when all around us there is ample evidence of the power and might of nature? I don’t think so. Indeed, in our day and age we are well acquainted with the devastating impacts of extreme weather and climate change around our world, much of it due to human actions.
Perhaps then we need to take our humility in hand and allow it to guide our actions as we plot the future. Perhaps we need to begin to imagine and to think more about living in tune with nature. That is, I often think that we try to keep nature at a distance, far from our experience and far from our personhood. We ‘distance’ ourselves from Mother Nature and, ultimately, our own nature— to our own detriment. For we are creatures first long before we are creators. Our very capacity to create beautiful art, useful instruments, logical solutions to complex problems, and so on stems from our being able to breath and move as creatures upon this good earth. Yes, our very capacity to create is secondary to the fact that we are creatures.
When the wind blows and the rains fall heavily here on the Wet Coast of Canada I am reminded that my personhood includes being having been created and that in my creaturehood I am depended upon Mother Nature for all that is around me. So, fierce weather can serve a spiritual function—it can remind me to turn my mind and my heart to the source of all from which we “live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28). Even in the most difficult of weather this is a teaching to be heeded.
Of course, this can all sound trite or pious. But, it need not be. If I take the teaching from Mother Nature, that we are creatures first and creators second, might this not provide a fundamental guideline for living appropriate for our times? Perhaps it is the corruption of this fundamental guideline, so that we see ourselves as creators before we recognize that we are creatures that is one of the root causes of severe weather patterns. Perhaps then I need to look for ways to live closer rather than distant from nature, in harmony with nature and all of creation rather than at odds with her. Perhaps I need to contemplate my creaturehood before I consider the actions I need to, am called to, undertake. That is what I am pondering these days as I walk in the wind and the rain at the beginning of this New Year.