What's Tony Thinking

The Second Book of Scripture


Medieval mystics referred to the natural world, God’s creation, as the “Second Book of Scripture.”

I suspect that for many the natural world is, in reality, the “First Book of Scripture.” Apprehended long before Genesis to Revelation.

Well, wherever you place it, the natural world is extraordinary. And as the Psalms put it, “The heavens are telling the glory of God.” Not just the heavens, but the saffron finches we saw yesterday, a flash of orange on their heads separating them from gold finches. And the families that shared the sand of Hapuna Beach with us today, for we too — we humans — are part of God’s good creation. (Picture here is ten minutes after sunset in Puako, Hawaii — extraordinary sky.)

We are in Hawaii. It is our fiftieth wedding anniversary this month. Yes, that’s right, we were children when we were married. Linda was 19, I was 20. We were married in her parents living room in Honolulu. By Teri Kawata, whom we plan to visit while here.

At present we are on the Big Island, staying in Puako, in a remarkable bamboo structure, the Palakana Sanctuary. Early mornings we sit on the porch, listening to and watching the birds.

If nature is indeed the “Second Book of Holy Scripture” the state and prospect of the planet causes me, as you, grief and worry. How can we not pull out all the stops to care for what is not ours, but which we are called to steward and to love?

As we left on our trip the headlines were all of a UN study indicating that human impact on the planet is taking an unprecedented toll.

Watching the ocean from here, it’s hard to imagine that we are on a precipice. But then you spot a wee sign as you head to the beach. “Is Your Sunscreen Killing the Coral?”

Fifty years. “Time is strange,” Linda says. In one sense it seems as if it has been a long, long time — a lifetime — since we were married; me in shorts and aloha shirt, bare foot; Linda in a lovely, flowing mumu. In another sense it was only yesterday. You know what I mean, right?

Well, we’re grateful to have made it this far together and to have this time to remember, to enjoy, to celebrate. It hasn’t always been easy — but then no one said it would be. But it has been good. Thanks be to God. And thanks be to all you friends and family, some/ many now departed, who have held and upheld us on the journey.

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