Thursday Thoughts on Nature


I saw this question on another blog, ” Where do you feel closest to God?” He went on to mention two places most would answer, “in church,” and “in nature”. This blog owner is also a pastor, professional nature photographer and author.

History has shown that nature has been a place where religion was practiced quite long ago by wandering people, those moving from place to place, hunting and gathering – up through times where people started making communities. Rudimentary religion, but a belief in a protector and a giver of life.


Does this protective canopy above not look like a place to sit within and contemplate? The brightly lit trees in fall even gesture towards the look of stained glass used today. And if you look at the image of the cathedral above, see the “trees and branches” forming the canopy overhead – making one look to the heavens?

Long before built churches, nature did serve as a place of worship. Nature was used to help understand and make sense of that which was greater – the unexplainable mystery. To see how this relationship was influenced in architecture see W4W Tracery in the Landscape. It was no accident that nature made its way into built structures of faith.


Nature is both complex and at the same time, simple.


Complex processes and understanding, but simple in the fact that it is undeniably needed.


Nature has many faces.  It has the native and the one of the introduced. It has many ways to make one feel small. Many ways to make one feel reverential respect. Many ways to make one feel guilty too.

When one thinks about it, much of the same feelings happen between both organized religion and reverence for nature. Any wonder why religion developed in open air environments? Why people came together and believed in something greater?

The tiny and the expansive intrigued many through the ages, so much that man has explored both. Now a days, we have methods to see the smallest and the farthest, the seemingly unreachable. It makes one wonder if we will ever see what we only can feel and believe in faith. Are there things we are not meant to see?


Just one look into the sky and there is a feeling of a presence greater than all that makes up this planet, all the things man does to control it or makes to take it away. The presence we may never meet or directly experience.


Most of us think smaller scale because it is both personal and manageable. But personal and manageable affects everyone’s personal and manageable.


A garden though small in scale, can be a sacred space of nature, a place of spiritual experience. We can fence it in, or open it to the world.


I look at all of nature as this garden and often use that tag line in my banner, The Greater Garden of Nature. It makes one wonder how all the creatures see the environments we create. When they enter, is it just what we offer that they desire, or is it more? Do we enter their environments for more?


When you share space with nature and it joins your party, it is like being rewarded in some way. Being grateful for this reward seems so appropriate. The reward is not always so obvious either; peace of mind, the peacefulness of place, the health benefits, the quiet – all things we might overlook or take for granted.


To me it is unfathomable that not everyone feels this way, because if they did, they would care for and protect rather than what we are saddened by all too often. Just a thought.

Sunday, what’s the latest news on butterflies? Are Monarchs rebounding or spiraling in decline?

Thursday Thoughts

About Garden Walk Garden Talk

I love to photograph, paint, draw, design, garden, travel the world, and pass on a few tips and ideas that I learned through experience as a Master Gardener and architect. I am highly trained in my field and enjoy my work each and every day. I garden in Niagara Falls, NY in zone 6-B. Find me at:
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33 Responses to Thursday Thoughts on Nature

  1. Debra says:

    As always your photographs are stunning. Just wow.

    I agree with everything you say here but wish to add a confession (quirk). I am certainly filled with awe by large spectacle and the complexity of detail but one thing that never fails to reach out and stop me in mid-action is the scent of healthy soil. When I step into a forest or a greenhouse and breathe in I am transported directly to the here and now. It is like time stops. I even get that sensation when I smell water spray. I must have been a dog in a former life. hahaha Have you ever heard of anything so odd before?

    • All the senses play into reverence for nature, so I do understand how one can breathe in nature in a forest. And also when by a river or stream having life just literally wash by. I think our inner being “knows” more than what we actually might witness in life. Something certainly does make us look to the heavens. Thank you for your thoughts.

  2. Magnificent photos, Donna! And found your thoughts on Nature and God very thought-provoking. Thank you for sharing them.

  3. Les says:

    I am not religious, but have experienced what some would call God several times. Most of these occurrences have been outside, in the forest or on the water, but occasionally I have experienced it between people. It is hard to put into words, but I know it when it is happening.

    • I would say that is really wonderful to have these moving experiences, and have them more than once. I would be interested how it occurs between people though. I always thought it was between self and God. I always think I need to have this experience sometime in my life.

  4. Brian Comeau says:

    Things have been pretty busy this year and I’ve missed a lot of your blogs but I’m so glad I caught this one Donna.

    I agree with the Pastor as well. A lot of my photographic inspiration comes from just being in the presence of God and His creation. As much as I enjoy the images I bring home there is something so very awesome about being outside, setting the camera aside for awhile, and just enjoying the peacefulness along with all that He has created. I’ll be teaching a photography class at my church in a few months and will have to remember to reference this post.
    Here is a book you might enjoy along the same topic. –

  5. Great observations and captures, Donna. I often marvel, too, that a person could not see the hand of a higher power in the miracles all around us. There are two sides to it, though: I don’t understand how a believer can think the earth is just a gift for humans to use up with abandon, and I don’t understand how a person cannot see that the creator is at work all around us.

    • I agree. Too many look at all of nature as a servant to people, rather than us to take care of for whatever reason makes the most sense – whether in service to God, because it is the right environmental thing to do or for future generations of us to live and make our homes.

  6. martine says:

    Inspiring thoughts to start the day, I always feel closer to God in the garden, in nature than cooped up indoors- and beautifully illustrated… stunning photos- thank you

  7. mariekeates says:

    I think we could all do well to live simpler lives, keeping in tune with Nature rather than always trying to defeat and work against.

  8. These are awe-inspiring photos.

  9. I’m always awed by the complexity of nature, it’s a poem with a trillion verses, each reliant on the others

  10. Once again, Donna, your photographs and thoughts inspire and cause me to think more deeply about aspects of the spirit. I, too, look at Nature and cannot conceive of a Creator of love, genius, logic and perfection. That’s when I’m most inspired in organized religion as well. When it’s small and grand all at once. The galaxies and the dust on a bee’s legs. I recently had a quiet moment of supreme joy sitting in my horse’s paddock in the warm Florida sunshine with butterflies and dragonflies flitting about the Florida flora (not all palm trees down here, as you well know :), the birds’ song and the smell of horse and the sight of horse filling my senses :)Thank you for your wonderful post!

  11. Thank you for the beautiful and inspiring post Donna.

  12. bittster says:

    Nice post and nice reminder of why I love being outdoors. There’s so much beauty and inspiration I can’t see how it doesn’t humble people. Faith in the world around us will always lift spirits.
    Have a great weekend and my fingers are crossed for the Monarchs.

    • Thanks Frank. I am with you, people should be a bit more humble in the presence of nature. I think you are right that faith should lift spirits, but it also has resulted in a lot of turmoil in a world full of different beliefs. I am pulling for Monarchs too.

  13. I am a thorough agnostic and not very reverential about things in general. In gardens I can feel tranquility or excitement. In nature I can feel the same, plus sometimes awe. And I definitely agree that when nature makes its presence known in the garden – a bird or butterfly that is beautiful or that I’ve never seen before – it does feel like a reward. Like a blessing, you might say.

    • To each his own. I am not very religious in a church going kind of way, but do see the connection between nature and belief. I think religion has its place and does benefit people, only if it translates into keeping this earth the Eden that it was when created. Would it not shock all religions if our heaven was right here on Earth the whole time. A test of those caring and those destroying.

  14. ncacho17 says:

    Reblogged this on Your Way with Words and commented:
    A beautiful little piece on nature and religion. It’s one that will get your minds wondering and inspired to go out and be in the presence of nature and the divine. Check out Donna’s blog “Garden Walk Garden Talk” for more.
    To Donna: your photographs are amazing and breath-taking. I wish I had half the talent you have.

  15. debsgarden says:

    A truly inspirational post with equally wonderful photos! I believe that nature is a reflection of God’s majesty and creativity. We can see God in nature when we look at the heavens above or when we look through a microscope. Some of my closest moments to God have been outside. Remember that the first, most perfect habitat for us was a garden!

  16. I agree with you, nature is both complex and simple. Amazing, isn’t it?!
    How beautifully shown! 🙂

  17. lucindalines says:

    I have always felt that one look at nature should give your soul proof of a divine creator. Beauty like that does not happen by chance, though I believe that God uses all things in the act of creating, including bangs.

  18. I call my garden a sanctuary that I share…it is really not mine. I am but its steward..a caretaker who visits and shares the space with all of nature…your words are poetic, profound and much needed…thank you Donna!

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