At the back of my parents' house is what estate agents would call a sun lounge. It is more of a lean-to than a conservatory, but very pleasant as a dining room, with a view over their beautiful - even in winter - back garden. As we sat eating lunch today, I found it hard to keep my eyes from an arch across the path, half-way down the garden, covered in a riot of clematis and Japanese honeysuckle. The flowers, of course, are not out in January - though there are several buds - and 'stripped back' the stems are beautiful, in reds and oranges. But it was the sunlight falling on the arch that transformed it from a mess of organic life into something that took my breath away - something that I could never hope to capture in a painting, or photograph, or words.
Nature is glorious, and it declares a glorious Creator. We cannot domesticate it; though we can seek to bless it, as by making an arch for the clematis to spread across. We cannot control it; as recent events remind us, should we have forgotten. Neither should we rape nature for our short-term pleasure (as westerners so often seem to believe it is there for - but which is to silence its voice, habitat by habitat, species by species), nor worship nature (as non-western worldviews often do, along with growing numbers in the west rightly dissatisfied with the rape approach - but which is to ignore its voice). Rather, we should join with all nature in worshipping the One who created both the world and those who live in it.
On a different (though not entirely unrelated) note, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams' article in today's Sunday Telegraph is well worth a read.