By Rev. M. Christopher Boyer
It has been nearly impossible during these past days of brilliant sunshine, blue skies and blooming flowers to ignore the beauty of God’s creation all around us. This natural splendor has informed my prayer life and my preparation for preaching and leading worship. The beauty of nature inspires many of us to give glory to God.
We are truly blessed in the Puget Sound region with many awesomely lovely vistas. My spirits can be lifted by a simple walk from my office to the nearby post office: I see the Cascades to the east, the Olympics to the west, and, on clear days, Mount Rainier to the south. A very short drive will take me to down to the Sound in Edmonds or Mukilteo to hear and smell the surf and see the sun glinting on the water or lighting up the trees on nearby islands.
But it is almost as simple to go to places where human presence in the midst of natural glory is minimal. My Baptist tradition, like many others, has a history of preserving places to celebrate the work of our loving Creator in unspoiled settings. Washington Baptist Convention owns three lovely campsites in our area. My congregation has special ties to Cascade Meadows Camp near Leavenworth. Secluded beneath Nason Ridge and the Chiwaukum Mountains, Cascade Meadows (www.cascademeadows.org) provides a quiet respite from our often stress-filled lifestyle. I’ve also baptized some of our youth in the icy waters of Nason Creek (brrr…)! If you are a hiker, I can wholeheartedly recommend the Alpine-like glades and slopes here.
For a place in the woods but close to the ocean, I’ve also found deep peace and refreshment at our Camp Bethel (www.campbethel.net) outside of Hoquiam. Camp Bethel has provided me with a quiet base from which to explore the Pacific Coast in all of its wild beauty. Closer to home, on the more placid waters of the Sound, is Camp Burton (www.campburton.com) on Vashon Island, where the programming and hospitality are first rate. All are welcome at these Baptist-owned camps or if you belong to a house of worship, perhaps your tradition has a camp nearby as well.
If you are able to travel far afield to experience the “thin places” in the world, where the beauty of nature seems to bring the spiritual realm closer than usual, you might visit the wind-swept Isle of Iona, off the coast of Scotland, as I was privileged to do last summer (www.iona.org.uk). Operating from a Christian worldview, the Community of Iona welcomes all who seek solace for their soul in the beauty of nature. Iona is significant not only for its rugged loveliness but also for its history. On this tiny island, Irish monks created the famous illuminations of the Book of Kells.
Whether you chose to travel to distant shores or simply enjoy the beauty outside your own window, may the glory of nature bring you closer to the loving Creator of all!
The Rev. M. Christopher Boyer is pastor of Good Shepherd Baptist Church in Lynnwood.