A different ‘look’ at nature

June 7, 2011

Faith Outdoors

Father Bob White

Father Bob White, pastor of St. Victoria in Victoria, looks over a Gospel reading with parish volunteer Mary Bishop, who has been printing the Gospel readings for Mass in large type so that Father White, who has a vision problem caused by a hereditary eye condition, can read them.

I recently had a chance to visit and photograph Father Bob White, pastor of St. Victoria in Victoria. He will appear in a special “Good News” section in this week’s edition of The Catholic Spirit.

It was a beautiful day, and Father White was getting ready to walk his dog after the photo shoot. We talked briefly about the outdoors and the role nature can play in our faith lives. He sees the landscape differently than most because an eye condition has significantly hampered his vision.

Yet, his perception of the outdoor world remains sharp. He offered some profound thoughts, which he later sent me in an email. I now offer them, with his permission:

The following are my thoughts on finding God in nature:

Initiation was always done in nature. We see this from many of the stories involving men in the Bible.  Their spiritual experiences seem not to occur in temples or sacred spaces but in nature. There’s Moses in the desert, the disciples on the mountain, Peter in his boat. Today you have the opportunity to make nature your sacred space. So take time to just observe nature.

A couple of years ago I had the chance to do some winter camping in the boundary waters area of northern Minnesota. One morning we get up and I’m just shivering in the 10-below cold. But my friend who loves Gerald Manely Hopkins looks up at the winter sky. It’s streaked with white whispy clouds. They stretch across the horizon. Seeing this, what does he do? He breaks into a few verses of Hopkins. ‘Glory be to God for dappled things. For skies of coupled color and brinded cow!’  I missed it but he caught it. He was seeing life in high definition and I was just well, cold. Today out there in the woods look closely at what you see and like my friend you’ll see life in high definition.


About Dave Hrbacek

Staff photographer and writer for The Catholic Spirit. Also, avid outdoors enthusiast with a passion for hunting, fishing and photography. Married to Julie and have four children, three boys and a girl.

View all posts by Dave Hrbacek