The Lake District in England is one of my favorite places on earth for beauty in nature. This was my third trip to the area and I hope not my last. But if it is, I am very grateful for the wonderful weather we had, the spectacular vistas and quaint cottages and villages we visited.
The Lake District is not a classic place of pilgrimage, unless one is making a pilgrimage to honor William Wordsworth or Samuel Coleridge, the two great Romantic poets associated with this area. As the students have all learned (I’m sure!), Wordsworth is often cited as a “nature poet” but what that means is complicated.
As one literary critic explains: “On the one hand, Wordsworth was the quintessential poet as naturalist, always paying close attention to details of the physical environment around him (plants, animals, geography, weather). At the same time, Wordsworth was a self-consciously literary artist who described ‘the mind of man’ as the ‘main haunt and region of his song.'” (AshtonNichols,http://users.dickinson.edu/~nicholsa/Romnat/wordsworth.htm
Nature no longer primarily represented the handiwork of God, a realm to be explored for what it teaches us about the Creator. Wordsworth becomes almost a second creator to God, working the experiences and scenery of his outer world into experiences of transcendence, not because they come from God, but because they come from the mind of man intervening to make sense of the world.
Can you tell I was an English major and that, when in college, the Romantics were my favorite poets?
Walking along a lake in the Lake District, or hiking up a steep hill from one of the villages nestled near a lake, one can’t help but marvel at the amazing scenery. But what is the next step of my heart? Do I give thanks to the Creator for all this beauty? Do I say with the Psalmist: “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof!”? Do I pause in adoring gratitude for all God’s good gifts?
We have seen so much beauty here in the British Isles. My prayer for everyone reading this is: whatever beauty you behold in your world today, may it lead you to the Source of all Beauty, God our Creator.