Week 5 Day 2: Simply Gaze

Week 5: My Relationship with Creation
Workbook Exercise: My Creation Collage

Watch: Week 5 Day 2: Simply Gaze
To what part of nature do you most feel connected, and why?
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Transcript of Video:

One of the exercises that I have engaged in myself, and I have also invited others to engage in, is this practice of focusing one’s attention on an object, any object, something as simple as a table for instance, and actually doing a little mental exercise where you simply gaze at the object without attempting to put any qualifications on it, brown table, black table, nice table, not nice table, table that is in good condition, table that is pockmarked, etc., etc., all the kinds of things that we do. It is also a very powerful exercise to this with a living thing: a tree, an animal, an insect. I just thought what would it be like to do it with a fly [laughs], because I generally impute certain qualities to flies, which may or may not be true. So I think that just simply being with what is and somehow suspending that judgmental voice that is always making qualifications is a very, very powerful thing to do. And I think something that can bring real insight, both into ourselves, into the world we live in, and also a deep sense of peace and centeredness.

– Br. Robert L’Esperance


  1. David Damon on October 5, 2021 at 08:13

    I feel most connected to two aspects of nature. On a macroscopic level I feel most connected to nature when I see the sky: I enjoy different cloud formations, clear blue skies, sunrises/sunsets, sunbeams. When I feel the wind I am reminded of Jesus’ words to Nicodemus about the Holy Spirit. On a microscopic level, I feel connected to nature when I consider the properties and behavior of atoms and molecules. As a chemist I greatly appreciate their beauty and complexity. The natural laws of the universe show me the hand of the Creator and I marvel at this.

  2. Lisa Bartoli-DeAngelis on April 1, 2019 at 16:19

    I feel most connected to our lord and nature when around animals. The deer in our yard for instance. Or the stray cats on the porch. I cant help but feel love for them. I wonder as they look at me how do they regard me. It always makes me happy when they step a bit closer to me and I know they dont feel threatened and seem curious about me too.

  3. David Watkins on December 7, 2017 at 08:02

    I feel closest to God and most connected to nature when I look out to the wooded areas around my home, and when I am working in the yard. I strive daily to feel this same connectedness to God through other people, who I believe are striving for this same connectedness with God and nature, all in their own ways.

    • Chioma A. Nwaogu on February 4, 2021 at 22:05

      The sky and air move me and make me feel that smoothness of nature and it’s movement

  4. Sue on April 12, 2017 at 17:28

    I love trees, but for me it is the sea.I have spent much of my life away from the sea, but whenever I return to the sea shore I feel grounded.It doesn’t matter whether it is warm or cold.I think it is partly because my earliest years were near the sea, but also because there is something huge and eternal about it.it is massive but also reaches out to the shore, you can walk in the waves.whatever happens,and whatever mood or weather, it is still there ,and the waves still keep coming and going…I could go on.

  5. Ginger on March 9, 2017 at 14:16

    The gentle crinkle of a sound that a small wave makes receading at the oceans edge. I am moved how one ever knows the size even the next one will be, nor which is the last before the tide turns while high tide time can be calculated to the minute every day years in advance! Love this as one of the many examples of nature’s exciting dicotomy….of mystery along side of domeyhing unchanging and 100% predictable along side of impossible to predict!

  6. Stan Lewis on March 9, 2017 at 10:32

    Two things in particular: water and mountains. Water because I understand that it is life sustaining and symbolic in our Christian tradition. Water is also powerful. Not only is it life sustaining but it alters the landscape. Mountains because to me they represent longevity. They have been altered by time and the elements and even once they are laid flat and are no more, they carry on in another form (sand, stone, etc).

  7. Jaan Sass on November 16, 2016 at 16:40

    What part of nature do I feel most connected is really for me two fold. First when I am doing yard work around the house and walks.

  8. Linda on June 10, 2016 at 18:40

    I am connected to any part of nature. I am amazed at God’s craftmenship and imagination. He doesn’t live in the things but can permeate anything as his presence is opnipresent everywhere. I have fun imagining Him looking through the eyes of the fly, or seeing how the red tail hawk sees. He created it. He can see any part of its function from the inside like a super engineer with special abilities. God breathes life into animals and people. The breath of life in my cat is holy because without God no animal or plant lives. He is the maker and holder of all life. God is so inspiring and amazing and a wonderful mystery.

  9. Margaret on March 13, 2016 at 21:32

    I feel most connected to mountains and trees. Hiking through the tree line to a summit where I feel I could touch the sky. The trees are so majestic even with their flaws and age and the open sky at the top where I can see forever are very prayerful.

  10. chuck griffis on March 13, 2016 at 14:26

    I connect with my backyard and our garden. I love our flowers and plants and the little animals that visit us in our suburban setting: the squerrils, possums, crows, starlings and songbirds and bugs. It gives me a feeling of awe to watch the complex relationships in just our little tiny patch of mother earth and a great respect for the Creator.

  11. Ruth West on March 13, 2016 at 01:17

    I feel most connected to blooming plants, flowers, trees in the Spring and green grass. However, I most miss being connected to the night sky. Before moving to town, we lived in the country many years where the stars and moon were so visible. Now, due to the city street lights, it is almost impossible to view the night sky. I love going to visit my relatives, who live in the country, and so enjoy that heavenly scenery. What a marvelous Creator we have!!

  12. Debbie on March 10, 2016 at 08:04

    A path that goes in to a part that has no one on it and is surrounded by green grass and trees. I like moving though it. It speaks of possibilities.

  13. Stan on March 9, 2016 at 20:24

    An interesting question, but an even more interesting exercise in the video. “Just being” within your environment is a very warming way to be.

    This is why I am constantly drawn outdoors. My wife and I do countless outdoor activities together, but when I’m alone, I like to just go find a nice secluded spot and sit down and just be. Observe but take it into myself, rather than feed myself outward.

    I found many favorite places to sit and be in the woods near where I grew up. And though there were may great places, the characteristic which seems the most constant is that it overlooks moving water. A nice rock to sit on while watching the water flow by. Often, my perch is above, but near, sometimes my perch was right in the creek if it’s shallow enough to step out to the rock, and one wonderful spot was a rock ledge right at the brink of a large waterfall.

    I don’t know why I’m drawn to the water. I’m not a swimmer, so water is actually one of the very few things that I fear. Yet ,,, it mesmerizes me. It makes me feel close to God. Perhaps it’s because God is the giver of life, but life can’t exist without water.

  14. susan zimmerman on March 8, 2016 at 20:42

    …i feel connected to all of the Absolutes that say something about the ‘nature’ of God…most connected when i encounter a surprise, via one of them…journal/write about these encounters.

    …most recently i’ve taken more seriously the idea that each of us actually have Gods’ spark within and peeking at the psychological a little more closely…concerned about where the far left leadership might take the church, with this insight. The Spark is not the ‘nature’ of God but is God, in each of the awaken ones.

  15. Gg on March 8, 2016 at 13:05

    Only a couple times a year, the ocean is warm enough on the north shore of MA for me to swim and float endlessly- My heart sings “How great Thou are…” and I feel totally connected to God and to my ancestors for generations from New England. I think of my great grandfather immigrating across the Atlantic from Norway to Rockport MA- becoming a ship captain (like others in my ancestry) and my grandmothers love for me- I feel there is no place I belong more than in that ocean with the sun in my face and thanking God – by myself while feeling so opposite of alone- so connected to it all!

  16. brent on March 8, 2016 at 09:20

    Perhaps because I’ve just come back (to still-frigid Massachusetts) from a warm-weather beach, what comes to mind is the ocean, not just looking at it but immersed in it, rolled and buoyed by the waves, lifted and gently carried along. From childhood till now the ocean and surf-swimming have been among my greatest pleasures. But I found Br. Robert’s more contemplative relationship to the things of nature really provocative–perhaps my immersive experience isn’t the only way …

  17. Eugene Wright on March 7, 2016 at 23:46

    Do I have to choose one? I do connect with nature in so many ways. I connect very much with water. When I was growing up a stream ran through the middle of our yard. I like water. I like watching the waves of a large river or the ocean. They make me feel so peaceful. I like flowers and plants and trees and especially large old trees. Now if a bird like a little robin is perched in it, I feel warn all over. I just appreciate God’s goodness and believe that if He could grow a tree to protect a robin He definitely have all the protection I need. I feel God’s presence in all of nature.

  18. Kristi on March 7, 2016 at 21:33

    I’ve always felt connected & attracted to flowers, trees, paths in the woods, mountains I can climb, sunrises & sunsets. I love & feel connected to nature when taking long walks or kayaking on open water. All these remind me of the glory & beauty that is Gods creation. Even just the sun in the sky is a gift I try & be mindful to thank the lord for as often as I can.

  19. Winifred on March 7, 2016 at 18:13

    like several others, I feel most connected to trees and to the sea.

    when I hike I like to take a moment to grasp the new leaves of a branch of a tree and I believe I can feel the flow of energy and a life force between my hand the tree’s branch.

    also, there is something about salt water that is so elemental and v powerful – it thrills me

  20. Robert on March 7, 2016 at 16:23

    Gentle hills and friendly valleys–with farms and orchards as in New Hampshire and Vermont or with olive groves as in Tuscany or velvety green grass as in Ireland and England. Welcoming, peaceful, quiet. A winding stream or brook helps!

  21. Russell on March 7, 2016 at 15:43

    Water. When my thoughts turn to nature, the strongest image for me is always water. I was born in a seaside city, grew up with water around me, from a young age swam, went boating with my family, spent warm days at the beach. My father kept a small sailboat and, rather than drive somewhere to have a picnic on the weekend, we would always sail somewhere. My maternal grandfather made his living on the water. I moved away from the ocean, but live near rivers and lakes. A creek runs through my current backyard and did during my childhood, too. So the geography and cycle of my life has most often been connected with water. I see God’s power and creativity in water, as well. Water was among the first elements of creation, the route out of captivity, the way to baptism. Being in or near water inspires and renews me. Wild or contained, water bouys my spirits just as it lifts my body. Touching the water feels like reaching into the Divine body.

  22. Joyce McGirr on March 7, 2016 at 15:28

    I love to watch the movement and the colors of the sky, especially at sunset. It’s always a surprise.

  23. Robert on March 7, 2016 at 12:08

    The wind. I feel when I am out walking, whether it is a breeze or a wind storm, the air wraps around me like God hugging me. It feels like I am being held.

  24. a city monk on March 7, 2016 at 11:02

    my dad once said…
    When you can look at sky scrapers and still see a virgin forest , you are ready to living in the country. And now I add and when I stopped being able to see the virgin forest in the sky scrapers… it was time to return to the city. If I ponder trees, they are made of “hugs” open hearted acceptance — trees hug, earth, sun, water, wind… all are signs of God’s Love in the arms and roots of a tree.

  25. a city monk on March 7, 2016 at 10:54

    Really I hear 2 questions… what part of nature do I feel most disconnected from and what part of nature do I feel most connected to..

    About an hour or so ago, the man who mows my neighbors yard arrived to do the first mow of the season. He has a habit of ‘parking’ this beast of a mower between the two houses and letting it idle while he opens gates, chats with the neighbor in his back yard while the engine roars echoing off the walls of the two houses like a narrow brick canyon. Today, in my jammies, I went out to scream at him over the roar of engine noise, as he pulled on jet aircraft ear protection. He wouldn’t and couldn’t hear me.

    Noise… is like a weed. A weed is a flower growing in a space it is not wanted, growing someplace else… it wouldn’t even be called a weed. A sound becomes unwanted. In and of itself.. it is just a sound. So as I listened to brother’s exercise… I tried to do it on the lawn mower, both the man and the machine. Yes, well….
    silent, non-judgmental presence…was NOT my response to either man or machine. I was not ok and really wanted the lawn mower to assume responsibility for my disturbance.

    What then is the difference between a response of acceptance… peaceful and nonjudgmental, and my controlling response — insert lots of adjectives and adverbs intended to create distance and communicate disapproval. I am easily shaken in adversity these days. I can give ya a look that will melt ear wax it is so disapproving.
    Yet, in deep nature, I experience no control at all over any element of nature and it is communion, humility and gratitude.

    Sunrise over Lake Michigan… wordless morning prayer, listening to Keith Jarrett’s Koln Piano concert… God is good, slow to anger and abiding in eternal love.

  26. gwedhen nicholas on March 7, 2016 at 09:41

    I feel most connected to the the moon and the trees. I feel this way because of my name, Gwedhen Lor. Gwedhen means ‘tree’ and Lor, means ‘moon’. My name makes me feel grounded in creation, and thus in God. I wish to emulate the moon and trees, both of which just ‘are’. They are who they are and whom God made them to be. They are strong but bend to the wind as I wish to bend to the breath of God. The moon reflects the light of the sun as I wish to reflect the light of God. It gives this light to lighten the night, as I wish to be able to give Gods’ light to those who are in darkness. Thanks be to God.

  27. Martha Hunter on March 7, 2016 at 09:39

    Trees-they keep our air clean so they give us breath. They are grounded in the earth with their roots and they reach up to the sky with their branches and sing praises to God with their movement with the breeze. Fall has always been my favorite season because I love their colorful leaves. Trees help me to be grounded and touched by God.

  28. Mryka on March 7, 2016 at 09:38

    I first “met” God (or should I say he first found me) in large overwhelming natural systems: rocks and barren alpine areas and broad views, and stars. So much so that I became a geologist for half my career, specializing in very old rocks. I think eventually I realized it was thinking about and studying time that attracted me, and I changed professional emphasis when geology jobs became all about oil and mining. But barren rocks still attract me, and last year I spent an entire day at Mt. St. Helens being drawn primarily to worship. Rocks seem like great stone cathedrals that play their own music quite beyond me. Maybe I figure if rocks and stars have been around so much longer than humans and even animals they must have gotten used to God’s ways and gotten to know God a lot better than humans can.

  29. Joanne on March 7, 2016 at 09:36

    I am definitely connected to the forest and the water and mountains as well as every living being that makes its home in these places. The forest is a place of peace for me, I love to hear the birds, smell the warm sun on pine needles, the rush of a babbling brook and the odd crack of a branch letting me know that I am not alone. When I hike a mountain and reach a peak – I feel closer to heaven than ever. And when I do all this with my dog, its just amazing.

  30. JoAnne Sharp on March 7, 2016 at 09:02

    For me it has always been trees…as a child, my older siblings poked fun at me for “talking to the trees”…trees provide shelter, food, shade, warmth even from the cold, protection…when I need to think something out, you will often times find me near a tree…perhaps the slight breeze through the leaves are the still small voice of the Almighty One whispering to me…

  31. Darla on March 7, 2016 at 08:55

    I feel most connected to the ocean. The ebb and flow, the waves, the sound that it makes speaks to me. The smell of the salt water, the feel of the water, the contrast between the water and the sand. When I gaze upon the ocean, I am reminded of God’s power and God’s grace. When I live near the ocean, I like to see how it interacts with the land in different ways. It reminds me that God interacts with each of us in a unique way that is based on our own characteristics. I feel God’s presence in the forest, in a garden , as I walk barefoot on the land, but there is something about the ocean that speaks to the deepest part of me.

  32. Rhode on March 7, 2016 at 08:37

    Whenever I sit in the sun whether in my garden, on the beach, in the early morning, at sunset, even in my car – I feel deeply connected to nature. I’ve clicked on pictures of daily NASA sun footage to see our hot star churning in all its’ fierce massiveness. I am enthralled. This roiling sun iworks hard for me everyday to provide light to see, food for plants, healing and nurturing. Outside, sitiing with my face turned towrds it, with my eyes shut, i sit so still and feel I can hear, distinctly, the whole world alive all around me. (‘Be still and know that I Am God’ always comes to mind when I sit in the sun. )

  33. Bobbi on March 7, 2016 at 08:02

    I feel connected to God when I am on the beach looking out to the ocean. Every kind of weather expresses some part of me and some life circumstance that I have experienced. Looking out always brings me God’s love, and I know that will be well, no matter what.
    I have two favorite beach and ocean places: the coast of Maine, and the Isle of Iona.

    • Christina on March 7, 2016 at 10:41

      And me too. I had a week on Iona and loved it. My particular memories are small blue flowers.// As a small child I was evacuated out of London with my mum. I loved being in the country and I recall hunkering down to absorb these tiny blue flowers.A patch of Forget-me-Knots.//Then Iona. Allotment gardens with flowers and vegetables. But, the picture in my mind’s eye is the stone walls created many years earlier. The miracle? In between the stones tiny seeds had made their way from somewhere and small blue wild flowers were blooming. Miraculous.

  34. Bill Spies on March 7, 2016 at 07:59

    The forest is where all my connections happen it seems. Being among the trees, bushes, the wild grasses, the birds, wildlife, and not doing anything other than being there helps me to see more clearly. Now thanks to my hearing being messed up that isn’t so among other people in crowds. There I feel stressed since I can’t hear what others are saying. The medical folks have tried to remedy my hearing issues and so far not managed any success so being in nature with no one else feels right for me.

  35. Neil Ellis Orts on March 7, 2016 at 07:56

    I’m gratified to see the responses about trees. Trees were what first came to my mind, too.

    And then I begin to question myself about that immediate question. Growing up, I felt very connected to many things on our farm, from the smell of the dirt in the garden to the moss on rocks by the (mostly dry) gully that ran through our back pasture. I wonder if trees are one of the few “nature things” that I can connect to in my urban setting. They’re highly pruned (the ones in my apartment complex, at least) and so cultivated like the yards and flower beds I see everywhere, but those feel less like “nature” to me, somehow.

    Perhaps this is where I put Br Robert’s practice into play, contemplating the growing things all around me without judgment or expectation of what they are and how they got there.

  36. Suzanne on March 7, 2016 at 06:50

    I feel most connected to nature through trees – especially big trees with gnarled, deeply etched bark and high canopies that involve a mesh of crisscrossed branches. Trees have offered me a safe space since childhood. Even now they pull me into a vacuum of quiet where I can let and hear God speak to me.

  37. Mike on March 7, 2016 at 06:39

    Right here where I live in Beaufort, SC there are many live oak tress which have a complex and very stately branching system often full of draping Spanish moss. They are ubiqiquiutous and infuse our landscape with a very stately. sure and steady presence. Where we used to live on Whidbey Island, Washington state our house had a view of Puget Sound the the Olympic mountains in the far distance. I found something very peaceful looking out across the water at those peaks which were snow-capped much of the year. There is something about the fact that geologically they are millions of years old which, in times of stress, I would contemplate and sense the peace and ease coming back into my mind and body.

  38. Jim V on March 7, 2016 at 06:22

    I feel connected to forests. I love walking or skiing through the woods in any season. I love the sense of calm, the noises, the beauty, the diversity, the way it is always changing, the complexity.

  39. Betty on March 7, 2016 at 06:19

    I feel most connected with trees and the woods. This is because as a child I spent fun times in the woods with my family… I love the different textures a tree offers colors heights and strengths.

    • Jane on March 7, 2016 at 06:47

      me too! I especially love a hike in the woods – the way the path draws me along, noticing the tree roots and stones (because I don’t want to trip and fall!) and the leaves, and the differences between a hike in different seasons (when foliage covers or doesn’t the view)

      • patricia jacobs on March 7, 2016 at 12:22

        I would say dirt. I remember with great pleasure my childhood dirt. We had a dirt hole atthe end of our yard. Sometimes I would take water up and make mud and mud pies.

  40. Muriel Akam on March 7, 2016 at 04:02

    I feel a connection with all of nature but trees move me in particular- old , gnarled trees , young green ones all with roots in the ground and branches reaching out to the sky symbolise life for me. They shelter and nurture birds, insects , animals , other plants, mosses, lichens and provide food,. They provide food, building materials and shelter to us too and are so beautiful with all shapes , sizes and colours with the changing seasons. I could go on. Dear God , thank you for trees.

  41. TainuiTony on March 6, 2016 at 13:02

    Kia ora
    I feel a connection with the land itself. When I touch it, it has so many ‘feels’ it has, textures and temperatures, smells and looks. When I sew in it I feel the soil receiving the plant and embracing it as I push soil around its roots; I know that a new relationship of growth is beginning based on nurture and life. When I make a mistake by planting things too close, the soil just deals with it. There is no huge objection. I feel accepted by the land itself when I look at it and touch it.

    • Sue on March 12, 2016 at 14:12

      I agree- the soil is what I connect with. I started plants indoors today to move outside when it gets warm enough here. I feel better already!

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