Spiritual Temperaments – Nature lovers (1of9)

April 11, 2010

'Leave the books behind, forget the demonstrations - just let them take a walk through the woods, mountains or open meadows.' (P22)

Saint Anthony, was an ascetic and monk who lived in the Egyptian desert during the third century CE. Thomas notes that: ‘he was made famous by the writings of Athanasius and was once asked: 

“How…dost thou content thyself, father, who are denied the comfort of books?” 

Anthony replied: “My book, philosopher, is the nature of created things, and as often as I have a mind to read the words of God, it is at my hand.”‘ 

The Sacred Pathways, Gary Thomas, Zondervan,P.39 

Thomas includes in his book, helpful short questionnaires at the end of each chapter to help readers discern if that specific temperament is one that resonates with them. For naturalists he asks the reader to score the following statements on a scale of one to five: 

  1. ‘I feel closest to God when I’m surrounded by what he has made – the mountains, the forests, or the sea.
  2. I feel cut off if I have to spend too much time indoors, just listening to speakers or singing songs. Nothing makes me feel closer to God than being outside.
  3. I would prefer to worship God by spending an hour beside a small brook than by participating in a group service.
  4. If I could escape to a garden to pray on a cold day, walk through a meadow on a warm day and take a trip by myself to the mountains on another day. I would be very happy.
  5. A book called Nature’s Sanctuaries: A picture book would be appealing to me.
  6. Seeing God’s beauty in nature is more moving to me than understanding new concepts, participating in a formal religious  service, or participating in social causes.’ (P.49)

A high score for these statements would indicate at least an underlying appreciation, if not preference, for this kind of spirituality.



  1. I think the rating criteria will be helpful.

    I would only score high on criterion 3 and I would definitely pick up and scan a book called ‘Nature’s Sanctuaries’ but will now consider compiling my own album. Mine would include a shot of a morning suntrap behind the garage where I sit on warmish Spring mornings with my coffee before work, rejoicing in the first signs of growth in my vegetable garden. Spring onions especially amaze me as they emerge from the earth bent over and may, if you watch carefully, spring up straight before your eyes. How clever is that? Does God ever watch us like this I wonder?

  2. The comfort of books is for me a great Grace! But, also the communing with Nature in Her prolific Living Book is very high on my life’s list. Thank you for this reminder to me that God is near, no matter what! in the Beauty of Nature, as well as in this city in which I live, amidst my books, the noise, polluted smells, and restlessness that one encounters in a “city” . The desert in the city, is part and parcel of this “Dark Night, White Soul” that this site speak of. Hopefully, I’ll be back as one of my favorites.
    My soul longs for the Springs of Living Waters, the Nature’s Solitary Pathways, the Bubbling Brooks and ever crashing waves on the seashore, as well as the truly dark night where stars can be seen by the naked eye.

    • Hi Helen,
      Thank you for your positive and encouraging feedback! It’s great to discover that others can relate to what I write and to realise that people are also experiencing some of the same paradoxical mysteries of God’s Grace. Literature, nature and the city all speak to me in different ways of the love of God for humanity – real, ordinary human beings. Sometimes they cause refreshing epiphanies of the presence of God. At other times they are desert like experiences of absence and an awareness of thirsting for more. Thanks again for your comments, I hope you will visit again sometime and I welcome any feedback you have. Best wishes, David

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