God, Nature, and Anna Comstock

On the glorious splendor of your majesty, and on your wondrous works, I will meditate. Ps. 145:5

Nature, second to the incredible truths of Scripture, has an ability to point our hearts to worship in awe of God Our Maker. Nothing points to God as incredibly as what He has made. Whether it is the human body He has made in HIs image, or the roaring sea rolling over crabs scurrying across the beach, the more awe we hold for nature, the more likely our hearts will be sent into childish and heartfelt awe of our Creator.

For those of us who believe in God as the creator of all things, nature is part of our theology. It is crucial we not the creational work of God mindlessly.

I am a busy person and understand it is easy to not walk this earth slowly enough to even savor the sunrise. But, as this created universe is a direct key to adoring my Father more, I have been convicted time and time again of my haste to live in it and not truly see with awe the world I am living in. But am deeply committed that my children also develop a deep appreciation for God’s creation. Every science we study is a direct finger pointing to God, saying “Wow!”

Scientists have been on earth studying what God has made for thousands of years, and as time has passed, science has only shown us how mush more there is to learn! We don’t know the half of the expanse of the universe. We don’t understand the workings of time. We cannot wrap our minds around eternity. There are animals and fish we have yet to discover. We have not even broached past the thin crust of our own planet!

As I teach my children about God, His creation gives great ease in pointing their little hearts to be amazement and awe of Him.

I love the emphasis placed upon nature through the Charlotte Mason Method of education that we use for home-schooling our children. We begun our nature education by spending time enjoying nature. Charlotte Mason recommends children play outdoors a minimum of two hours a day, regardless of weather. Although, whether does matter a bit to me, I do encourage my children to get outdoors at every given opportunity and never discourage them from going out to play.

We didn’t begin studying nature by going on nature walks and identifying birds and plants. We began learning to love nature by rolling in the grass, climbing trees, building mud pies, watching birds and squirrels at our feeder, following an ant to her tribe, and catching butterflies in nets.

Once an enjoyment of nature was established, we moved on slowly to drawing, photographing, and coloring nature. Honestly, with an enjoyment for creation established, the more detailed attention into what was already enjoyed is a natural step. My children started a nature sketchbook before they could write. Each term we focus on studying one aspect of nature. We have studied birds, agriculture, insects, reptiles, and this term we are working on freshwater fish.

That is where Comstock’s book: Handbook of Nature comes in. Anna Comstock, has been our guide as we learn about this amazing world and the creatures God has made. She is a renowned anthropologist from Cornell University in Ithaca, NY. Her studies on nature are not only well versed, but she doesn’t wax too eloquent for children. Her notes on each animal or plant are brief, but specific.

I am not certain she is a Christian, but Anna Comstock makes note of God in her writing as many authors in the early days of our country did. So, I am confident my children are getting a perspective on nature that acknowledges God as the Creator.

I love the entertaining and easy reading through Comstock’s Handbook of the Study of Nature. We read about the brook trout a few weeks ago and in her notes on his eating habits she writes: “Woe to the unfortunate insect that falls upon the surface of the water in his vicinity…”

At the end of each nature lesson, Anna Comstock directs us in specific observations, questions and thoughts that give us room to see the created item through with eyes of detail and thought, giving us sketching or essay starts. My children have absorbed so much about nature from simply processing what they have learned through drawing or oral essays-eventually written essays.

As we continue out journey of the study of God’s creation, I am find my own heart falling into worship as we learn about this amazing world, the incredible design in this fallen universe, that I can easily echo with my children and the Psalmist:

When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,
    the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,
what is man that you are mindful of him,
    and the son of man that you care for him? Ps. 8:3-4

O Lord, how manifold are your works!
    In wisdom have you made them all;
    the earth is full of your creatures. Ps. 104:24