Wild Lent: Discovering God Through Creation

sky-panorama-with-clouds-1479164-1598x485 Philippe Ramakers freeimages
© Philippe Ramakers, freeimages

Cloud watching

I love the sky, how it’s always moving and changing. Everyone has access to a little bit of sky, and no matter how messy and chaotic our lives can get on the ground the clouds blow past regardless.

If it’s not actually raining, or indeed if you don’t mind lying down in the rain, spread out a picnic blanket on the ground outside and spend five minutes looking up. This will save you getting neck ache! If you can’t face getting down on the floor, just stand and stare. If you can’t leave your home or place of work, grab a cup of tea and look at the sky out of the window for five minutes, or make a date to do some cloud watching from the window of your bus.

Maybe you’re having a grey overcast day and can barely see the sun glowing faintly through a layer of altostratus clouds. Perhaps you’re fascinated by the wisps of cirrus clouds feathering the blue sky, or are awed by a towering and majestic cumulonimbus heralding the onset of a storm. Clouds are other-worldly and constantly fascinating.

Have a read of Psalm 147: 7-8 while you do your cloud gazing.

Sing to the Lord with grateful praise;

make music to our God on the harp.

He covers the sky with clouds;

he supplies the earth with rain

and makes grass grow on the hills.

Putting down:

Cloud watching is one of the most transcendent things I do in my everyday life. Looking up and above helps me to remember that the world is larger than my own fears and concerns. The beauty of the sky helps me to get more of a perspective on my life. That feeling of being absorbed by something so much greater than yourself, with such a different sense of pace and priorities, also reminds me of how it feels to be absorbed into God’s reality, putting aside my own timetable and wish lists, and trying to attune myself to the winds of the Holy Spirit.

Lord, as I am filled with a sense of peace and awe watching the clouds above me, so fill me with a sense of peace and awe as I rest in your presence. Amen.


Journeying on:

It’s amazing to think that those clouds up there are all made out of tiny drops of water, often water as ice crystals, suspended in the air, and shaped and moulded by the air currents and the breeze. Eventually they will fall as rain, soak into the ground and trickle through streams and rivers, maybe even trickle through you! They’ll continue their journey possibly as far as the ocean before once more becoming water vapour and soaring up into the skies again. Reflect over your journey in the light of the water cycle. Are there some parts that particularly resonate with you at the moment?

Lord, as the water you have made speaks to me of my journey, so I am reminded that all your creation gives you praise, and I join in with creation’s song. Amen.


wild_lent_new_cover_copyThis post was an extract from Wild Lent: Discovering God Through Creation by Rachel Summers (Kevin Mayhew, 2017), 128 pages, £7.99.



Guest Post: Not a Clock Maker – Randomness and order in science and faith

just-like-clockwork-1192669-1599x1254 Dominic Morel freeimages
© Dominic Morel, freeimages.com

When we think of God’s creative activity, Christians are sometimes reluctant to think that randomness and disorder may form part of his toolkit.  Motivated by an honourable desire to only associate him with the very best and most perfect means, we limit his creative activity to Victorian clockwork. But I disagree. Continue reading

Creation Groans, but God Hears

panther-close-up-1559931-638x425 Marco Luttenberg Freeimages
Panther by Marco Luttenberg, freeimages.com

Visitors to London Zoo last autumn stood enthralled, watching the family dynamics of the critically endangered Sumatran tiger playing out before them. The two newborn cubs, instinctively mischievous, repeatedly pounced and climbed up their 280-pound father, claws unsheathed. Crowds admired this tiger, built for predatory power, turning his obvious annoyance into gentle reprimands. The scene is reminiscent of Aslan the lion, whom C. S. Lewis used to capture some of the attributes of God—tender but also powerful and “not a tame lion.”

Today, these majestic cats are the focus of World Wildlife Day, along with the other big cats that are under threat on our watch—no, because of our watch. Habitat loss, conflict with people, and poaching are just some of the reasons for their drastic declines. There has been a 95 percent drop in tiger numbers over the last hundred years and a 40 percent drop in African lions over just 20 years.

Continue reading this article now (free, no signup required) in Christianity Today.


How Biofriendly is the Universe?

Kepler-186f: artist’s concept. Image credit: NASA Ames/JPL-Caltech/T. Pyle

It’s obvious that our own planet is friendly to life, but what about the rest of the universe? Is the rest of space too cold and dark – or hot – to allow life to develop? Was the development of life on earth a hugely improbably event, or pretty much a forgone conclusion? The Nobel Prize-winning biochemist Christian de Duve spent the last few years of his career investigating this question, and came up with a surprising answer. In this post I’ll share five of the characteristics of life that he studied. Continue reading

Guest Post: Scientists are childish (but in a good way)

child-1244531_1920Children are delighted by living things that most adults think are icky or mundane. Last spring my daughter Lucy, now age 6, found a large earthworm and named it Cinderella. She played with it for hours. Not a week later my son Josiah, 4, caught a big brown toad in our backyard and squealed repeatedly, “He’s adorable!” (Not everyone would pick that adjective, but I agreed.) They fixate on the fish tank at the dentist’s office or our family’s ant farm, taking in every detail and pestering me with a steady stream of questions.

Some of the questions they ask are profound. We were almost to school the other day when Lucy asked, “Is there any number bigger than infinity?” and then, “Is God bigger than infinity?” I paused, breathless with parental joy, before I responded. Continue reading

Guest Post: The Incredible Beauty of Cells

Cancer cells-crop
Cropped from original. Credit: Annie Cavanagh. WellcomeCollection. (CC BY-NC 4.0)

I am an ex-cell biologist. Whilst I was a PhD student, it felt like cells were involved in every aspect of my life. I would grow cells, study cells, read about cells, spin them in centrifuges, look at them down a microscope, and visit them at 2am to take timepoints for particularly gruelling experiments. When I spoke to my relatives, the question ‘How are you?’ was often followed by: ‘How are your cells behaving?’. Continue reading

A Reflection for Lent

John 19:19-22 – The King of the Jews. Image source: http://jesusisgod316.blogspot.co.uk/

As they were going out, they met a man from Cyrene, named Simon, and they forced him to carry the cross. They came to a place called Golgotha (which means ‘the place of the skull’). There they offered Jesus wine to drink, mixed with gall; but after tasting it, he refused to drink it. When they had crucified him, they divided up his clothes by casting lots. And sitting down, they kept watch over him there. Above his head they placed the written charge against him:

this is jesus, the king of the jews.

Matthew 27:32-37

Some of the most beautiful things in the world have an ugly side. I was recently Continue reading