The week before Christmas, in the beauty of the sun, I went on a walk out North Douglas to a secluded beach with my husband and our three children. From the beach, looking across Gastineau channel, we could see the snow-covered Chilkat mountains spanning the horizon and the choppy waves crashing on the shore. Coming out of the trees to walk to the beach, a cold winter wind met us, making the already brisk weather seem positively frigid. Though my husband and I both commented on it to each other, the kids were too caught up in the wonder of the place to even notice. They spent over an hour exploring the rocks, the logs, the icy tide pools and the thin lichen. They didn’t want to leave when we finally told them, through chattering teeth, that it was time to go.
There is something about the beauty of creation, which teaches us fundamentally about the goodness and grandeur of God. God, the Creator, reveals Godself to us in creation: in the miracle of a baby being born, the fury of a winter storm, the fragile beauty of a rainbow.
The sun and wind reminded me of another day, 10 years ago, when I was home on Spring Break from college. The Jesuit institution I attended was leading me to expand my vision of God, people and the world. I was being called out of the comfortable box I had created for myself to really grapple with questions of faith and life. In the midst of it all I wondered, knowing what I knew about the world, could I still believe in God? Knowing what I knew about my own failings and sinfulness, could I believe in a God who loved me? The week of spring break was cold, clear and sunny, and on one of the days I joined my parents for a cross-country ski on the frozen lake in front of Mendenhall Glacier. Out on the ice, skiing over a perfect layer of snow, the sky was an impossible shade of blue stretching out forever and the sun made the snow sparkle and illuminated the icebergs frozen into the lake. And suddenly I heard it, God, speaking to my questioning and bruised heart: ‘This is how much I love you.’
Today I still hold that memory dear. The knowledge that the God who created the heavens and the earth, tells us through the very beauty of creation, ‘See, this is how much I love you.’ No wonder my children wanted to set up camp and stay forever on the icy beach. In the smooth black rocks they found a place to climb, a lookout, a safe shelter. In the sun they knew the warmth of God’s love and in the water and wind the expansiveness of life. Everything told them what they already know in their inner wisdom: bask in the beauty of creation and you can touch the love of the Creator.
• Katy Beedle Rice is the Director of Religious Education at the Cathedral of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary.