I've had three lessons from the natural world that I am aware of.
Once in Rome.
I was sitting on a bench looking at the most bedraggled pigeon on earth.
He was injured and would not live long.
A wave of atheism swept over me.
How could there be a God who would make such a miserable creature.
I thought there could be no God for this pigeon.
Abruptly the pigeon took off.
He rose into the gold serenity of a Roman sky.
He wheeled above the rooftops and soared higher again.
In his flying, he was experiencing sensations I could never know.
Without any merit on my part, I had been permitted to see how the universe held glories even for a dying pigeon.
I followed his flight for many minutes until he was just a speck against the immensity of heaven.
At that moment I understood that in his most ordinary everyday experience of flying, the pigeon would know unfathomable elations the like of which a human being cannot guess at, short of eternity.
I was humbled.
Ever since, I cannot look at a pigeon without thinking of the majesty of the creator.
Another time I saw a cat falling from the top of a tall tree.
I felt sorry for the cat.
Again existence seemed briefly purposeless and merciless.
About half way to the ground, the cat struck a branch which broke beneath her.
Her fall continued.
Just above the ground, she struck another branch.
This one didn't break.
The cat was deflected sideways and came to earth.
She walked away insouciant and dignified as befits the race of cats.
You could have not have known from her manner what had just happened to her.
She was all aplomb.
I could feel something.
In life sometimes we get a terrible thump, a trauma or a tragedy, and it seems useless and unfair that we should experience what we are experiencing, and we hardly know how we can keep living.
Then we get another terrible thump, another even more painful more egregious injustice, perhaps another branch breaking beneath us, and we broach the precincts of nightmarish despair.
But we are close to the ground now.
And the two impacts may have saved us from certain death in a fall we never even suspected was happening.
Every tragedy brings a triumph.
The Lord turns to the good all things for those who love him.
And finally this morning.
I opened the curtains at dawn.
Terence and Teresita, the two turtledoves, were canoodling on the telephone wire opposite my window.
Nestling against each other.
Occasionally burying their heads one into the other's shoulder feathers.
There was a tenderness in them that struck most nearly upon my heart.
Here is the spirit of love in nature.
This togetherness is what is true.
Not pornography. Or fetishisms. Or drugs.
My soul rejoiced.
I called out to the reverent creatures.
"Hey you two," I shouted. "Get a room."