Spiritual experiences can be found in nature

Padre JonczykChaplain’s Corner

Padre Zibby Jonczyk

Ever since I moved to Cold Lake I have been asked countless times if I fish or hunt, or if I have a boat, dirt bike or quad. I do not camp in summer or do ice fishing or snowmobiling in winter.

Although I do not do any of those activities—some of which look pretty fun—I do enjoy the natural beauty of the Cold Lake area, and I love walking and riding my bicycle. Cold Lake and the surrounding area are certainly beautiful and have lots to offer to those who enjoy spending time outdoors. With many campgrounds, beaches and hiking trails, Cold Lake and the whole Lakeland District wait for you to explore.

If you venture just little bit farther, you will find yourself surrounded by a different landscape, whether it’s the badlands in the southern parts of our province—which almost look like you were on a different planet!—or the magnificent Rockies in the West, where the scenery will take your breath away.

Each time I look at the incredible beauty that surrounds me, whether it be a lake or a mountain, a sunset or a sunrise, a rainbow or a cloud formation, perhaps an unintentional encounter with a wild bird or other animal (hopefully not a bear; not too close anyways!), I am awed by the peace and tranquility of this land. I think finding God in nature is one of those things you cannot help; it just happens. As King David said in Psalm 19:1: “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands”.

For many people, nature is the primary way in which they connect with God. People have always been drawn to the beauty and majesty of nature. But nature invites us to look deeper. Have you ever looked in wonder at a sunset and felt that something spiritual, something bigger than yourself was out there? Many of us have had our most meaningful spiritual experiences in relationship to the environment. Beauty provokes us to transcend our ordinary experiences and move into the extraordinary.

As we are all different, we connect with God in unique ways. One way God communicates His love to us is through nature; in birdsong, the remarkable beauty of a flower or the colourful grace of a butterfly. For me, when I look at nature and see all the beauty that God has placed here for us to enjoy, there is no denying His presence in the world He created, or in my life. In those still, quiet moments when I am intertwined with His creation, He is as real as the air
I breathe, and His voice speaks to me as softly as a gentle breeze.

I find myself occasionally looking at the clouds by day and the sunset in the late evening or the northern lights at night, admiring the colors and the way that God seems to paint His beauty across the sky for all to see. He is quite the artist and nothing can compare to the marvels that He sets before us. This summer, as we have experienced an abundance of rain, I have been impressed by the colourful flowers in the gardens. And, have you ever seen so many different shades of green? I invite you to go outdoors and enjoy God’s creation the best way possible: in each other’s company. It’s still summer out there! Enjoy!

Chaplains’ Office: 780-840-8000 ext. 7969