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Loud, Vibrant & Beautiful

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There have been a few times in my life where God’s presence, abundance and majesty left me thunderstruck.

As a child of 10 or so, when my family went to the Gulf Coast, I would drag a chair out to the beach at night and sit under the stars. Even at that young age, the vastness of the night sky and space joined the infinite number of sand grains beneath my feet and the crashing waves of the ocean to stir my heart and soul’s recognition of God. My sister teased me, asking if I was sitting out there alone “meditating.” I guess in some ways I was, but mostly I was marveling, recognizing and existing with the Creator around me.

Later, as a teenager in the Methodist Church, I went on a confirmation retreat in the middle of the woods and our pastor took us on a hike. I was almost certainly the most obnoxious of the confirmands, picking up leaves and asking questions about every tree, leaf, bird and rock we encountered. Once again, nature’s great diversity overwhelmed me, striking a chord within my soul that spoke to the imagination and creativity of our Creator.

Much more recently, a friend and I took our young sons on a long weekend trip to Red River Gorge in Kentucky. Although my initial thoughts centered on the many stories I’ve read about people toppling off its cliffs and all the safety protocols I’d need in place for my son, once we arrived and started hiking, most of that disappeared – I was completely awestruck by the world around me. The whole area is like nature’s art gallery: from the striking natural rock arches, to the layers of colored sediment and the natural trails and caves, Red River Gorge is breathtaking.

Additionally, with cell service nearly non-existent, my friend and I learned a few hard lessons in starting and maintaining a campfire. We focused on using the bodies God gave us – to hike, start fires, hydrate – and on our boys and their pure joy over our natural surroundings.

Sometimes God is subtle with us, guiding us, nudging us to show He is there. But with nature, especially in more remote locations where technology doesn’t beckon us in, God is loud, vibrant and beautiful!

This issue of The Catholic Telegraph is all about God’s big beauty! Western and Southwestern Ohio have many outdoor spaces that are dedicated to prayer – through outdoor Stations of the Cross, nature centers that foster care for creation, and even the church bells that loudly announce the presence of Jesus to the outside world. We hope you accept this issue’s invitation to go outside, pray and allow yourself to stand in awe of God’s creation.

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