How often have you heard someone say, “He has so much of his father in him,” or, “she reminds me so much of her mother”? Along with the genetic links in our appearances, we often behave and think in ways similar to those who participated in creating us.
Maybe it’s the athletic build and talent like your father, or the prominent freckles similar to your mother. Perhaps it’s a fiery temper like your grandfather.
We also discover similarities when reflecting on how we, as products of God’s creation, have characteristics and features reminiscent of our Father, God himself.
What does it mean to be created by God?
God tells us He created humans in His image and likeness—and that we are very good. That fearfully and wonderfully made, we have God’s image stamped into the essence of our being. We are His, and we share in His likeness.
Mountains mysteriously reflect the beauty and majesty of God as well, as does a pristine beach, an icy glacier–along with everything else He created. The trees, rivers, animals, volcanoes, planets, etc. We are all His, and though God set apart humans (distinctly created in God’s image and likeness unlike any other living creature), we all have inherent dignity and value: “Through the greatness and beauty of creatures one comes to know by analogy their maker” (Wisdom: 13:5).
Have you ever beheld a piece of creation that took your breath away, where you couldn’t say much or make sense of the miracle in front of you? Where all you could do was behold the scene and admire it?
There’s something about this beauty, this mystique, that stops us dead in our tracks. It ignites a stir deep within us. We are deeply moved, and drawn to the beauty. We wish we could soak it all in, and behold it forever.
Where does this longing stem from?
“It is Jesus that you seek when you dream of happiness…”
The question reminds me of one of St. John Paul II’s famous quotes:
It is Jesus that you seek when you dream of happiness; He is waiting for you when nothing else you find satisfies you; He is the beauty to which you are so attracted.”
We gaze at a celestial piece of mother nature, and the scene captures our hearts. We long for the source of these pieces of creation, He who is the source of life.
I enjoy traveling to places with beautiful natural landscape. You could say that in my travels to pristine places I’ve been searching. That my heart has been looking to the earth’s beauty to find its rest in the thing it most deeply seeks—God himself.
O God, you are my God—
it is you I seek!
For you my body yearns;
for you my soul thirsts,
In a land parched, lifeless,Psalm 63:1
and without water.”
One of my favorite places to visit is tropical rainforest. Walking down a trail in a rainforest fills me with deep joy, and it brings to life the giddy child within me. Lush palm trees, exotic birds, dewy plants and flowers, thrashing waterfalls. And hundreds of noises that sound like a live orchestra of a natural paradise.
And yet, as I walk through these incandescent places, admiring and trying to soak in all the unbelievable scenes, to pocket the idyllic experiences, a restless ache remains within me. Though the places often feel “out of this world,” and the created beauty makes me think of God, none of them will completely satisfy the longing I have for their maker-God himself.
We are the Masterpieces of His creation
For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.”-Ephesians 2:10
And yet, as beautiful as the majestic mountains or rolling hills are, nothing is a masterpiece of God’s creation like you and me.
I know many of us have heard this before. We are all made in God’s image and likeness and are His masterpieces; but, if when we are awestruck by a simple, gorgeous sunset, and we know that we as humans possess more of God’s “image” in us, then how much more captivating must you and I be to the eyes of God?! What does He think, and how does He react when He gazes at and beholds us? If my jaw drops at towering cliffs and giant waves, God’s gaze on us must be explosive. He must be a bundle of fireworks: bouncing off walls, awestruck, stopped dead in His tracks–madly, completely in love with us.
Caring for and Restoring God’s creation
As we recognize God in ourselves, in our brothers and sisters, and all of creation, we know that as Christians called to love, we must respond. As I reflect on my call to properly care for myself, and all the creation around me, I see room for improvement.
How am I caring for God’s creation?
How do I care for myself as God’s created daughter/son, protecting my body and the gift of life that He’s given me?
How do I care for and protect my brothers and sisters in Christ, preserving the dignity of all human life?
How do I exercise proper stewardship of this earth that’s been gifted to us? And all the creatures within it?
How do I order my life so I am not wasteful? How do I limit what I consume?
Do you notice any areas where you could more faithfully care for God’s creation?
We can ask St. Francis to help us care for all God’s created things the way he did. He understood God as the source of all being and that all being deserves love and respect. May we learn to look upon ourselves, those around us, and all of creation with a humble, open, and grateful heart. So that we can call out with the same comradery towards creation that St. Francis had:
Be praised Good Lord for Brother Sun who brings us each new day.
Be praised for Sister Moon: white beauty bright and fair, with wandering stars she moves through the night.
Be praised my Lord for Brother Wind, for air and clouds and the skies of every season.
Be praised for Sister Water: humble, helpful, precious, pure; she cleanses us in rivers and renews us in rain…”Canticle of Creation, abridged