O Lord, how manifold are Thy works! In wisdom hast Thou made them all; the earth is full of Thy creatures.

Psalm 104:24


The distractions and disappointments of life can sometimes leave us wondering “is there a God?”  Most of us are surrounded by man-made things all day long.  In my office right now, I am surrounded with computers designed by people, furniture built by people, books written by people, in a building constructed by people.  Out my window I see other buildings as well as cars.  I see only a sliver of sky.  Surrounded by man-made things, it would be easy to see man as the center of the universe. 


One great place to connect with God is in nature.  Get away from all the man-made stuff for a little while and experience a natural environment.  Put your feet in the ocean.  Who made the water?  How did it get cold?  How did waves start?  Look at the stars.  There are more than we can count.  Who put them there?  Who created clouds?  Who made rain?  Who created planets?  Who decided that the earth should rotate, or that the sun would shine in the day and the moon at night? 


Once we start to look at these and a myriad of other questions that come from experiencing nature, we will quickly realize that no human being could have created all of these things.  A human being can build a house, but he can’t make a star.  A human being car write a book, but he can’t make a tall mountain.  A human being can create a fan, but can’t make wind gust over an entire city.  Once we place God at the center of creation, as its Creator, then we can find our proper place in creation, which is that we are not the center.  He is.  And if He is the center, then it should be Him that we serve.  We should revolve around Him.  Many times we design our lives so that God fits into them, rather than us fitting around Him. 


One of the best ways to have an experience of God is to get away from all the man-made, man-focused stuff and get around God’s stuff.  Spend some time in nature.  Look at the intricacies of the plants and flowers, of trees and bushes.  Look at mountains, gaze at the stars.  Our cities often don’t afford us a good look at the stars.   So make it a point at least once a year to go someplace far from a city and enjoy nature in as pure of a form as you can.  And while in the city, in our busy life, take time to appreciate nature.  This can be as simple as smelling the fragrance of flowers.  Or holding some soil in your hand.  Or appreciating the coolness of water. 


Psalm 104, the Psalm from which today’s verse comes, is sometimes called “The Psalm of Creation.”  It is read at Vespers each night, as one day ends and a new one begins.  It reminds us that our beginning came from God our Creator.  When I have to a chance to be in nature, I often find myself saying today’s verse over and over again, “How great are Your works o Lord!  In wisdom You have made them all!  Make it a point to get out into nature as often as possible.  For in nature we not only see beauty, but we see God.  In nature we get away from our “we are the center of the universe” mentality and again rediscover that God is the Creator of the Universe. 


May the glory of the Lord endure forever, may the Lord rejoice in His works, who looks on the earth and it trembles, who touches the mountains and they smoke!  I will sing to the Lord as long as I live; I will sing praise to my God while I have being.  May my meditation be pleasing to Him, for I rejoice in the Lord.  Let sinners be consumed from the earth, and let the wicked be no more!  Bless the Lord, O my soul! Praise the Lord!  Amen.  (Psalm 104: 31-35)


Spend time in nature as often as you can!


Fr. Stavros Akrotirianakis

Fr. Stavros N. Akrotirianakis is the Proistamenos of St. John Greek Orthodox Church in Tampa, FL. Fr. contributes the Prayer Team Ministry, a daily reflection, which began in February 2015. The Prayer Team now has its own dedicated website! Fr. Stavros has produced multiple books, you can view here: https://amzn.to/3nVPY5M


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