Signs of Nature — Commentary by Sally Jo Gilbert de Vargas

“In the creation of the heavens and the earth, and in the succession of the night and day, there are indeed messages for all who are endowed with insight.“ (Qur’an 3:190)

“If you cry because the sun has gone out of your life, your tears will prevent you from seeing the stars.”  ~ Rabindranath Tagore

“There is One Holy Book, the sacred manuscript of nature, the only scripture which can enlighten the reader.To the eye of the seer every leaf of the tree is a page of the holy book that contains divine revelation, and he is inspired every moment of his life by constantly reading and understanding the holy script of nature.”  ~ Hazrat Inayat Khan 

Many mystics and saints have said that the most profound spiritual scripture is the book of Nature.  The Qur’an corroborates this with dozens of verses extolling the signs and messages present in the natural world…everything from the rain clouds, to various animals, the sun, moon, and stars…I count at least 27 out of the 115 suras (chapters) which are named after natural events (sunrise, thunder, dawn, wind) or the natural world. (That doesn’t count the ten chapters named after supernatural events such as the Day of Judgment!)  Over and over we are reminded that these natural features and events are “signs for those who understand.”  

We often experience a profound spiritual shift when we spend time alone in the natural world and open ourselves to the messages and signs that are present there. Perhaps a walk alone along the ocean shore, or a hike deep in an old growth forest, or simply a walk in the park where gardens and birds abound.  When we encounter something strikingly beautiful or intricate, we find a deep sense of gratitude rushing from the heart.  Perhaps we observe an animal in a posture of grace or beauty: a heron standing perfectly still on the edge of a lake at dusk; a squirrel looking curiously as if to ask a question, a tree or a mountain standing with such magnificent splendor and beauty that it takes the breath away.  To me these are all signs of the mystery and majesty of the Divine force that brought forth this incredible variety and perfect harmony and beauty, of which we humans are each an interrelated aspect.  We humans have always been fascinated by the mysterious journeys of the stars and planets, how they intersect and interact even at great distances.  One can study the science of all these phenomena and understand how things happen the way they do, but one can never truly understand why they happen exactly the way they do.  It is that sense of awe and wonder which puts us in touch with Divinity within and without.  It is just this sense of awe which shows we are all, at heart, spiritual beings.  

We are also reminded that even in nature, besides harmony and beauty, there are definite and infinite opposites: day and night, hot and cold, high tide and low tide, male and female, rain and drought, abundance and scarcity.  The list goes on and on, because, as the Qur’an reminds us, “Of everything We have created opposites, so that you might bear in mind that God alone is One.” (Qur’an 51:49)    

Leave a Reply