Glimpses of God


Jack Houvouras

I recently returned from a business trip to San Francisco, and while there decided to spend a few extra days in wine country. I ended up visiting several wineries, but my first stop at the Chalk Hill estate in Sonoma County was by far the most memorable. The vistas the property afforded were simply stunning. Standing atop a high bluff and looking out over the Russian River Valley awakened my sometimes dormant spiritual side.

Like most people, when it comes to matters of faith, I sometimes struggle with doubts. But every now and then, like my visit to Chalk Hill, I witness something so powerful that it erases all uncertainty.

The place I typically feel closest to God isn't in a church, but in nature. It began when I was a child walking through the woods near Ritter Park after a snowstorm. The cathedral of trees covered in white powder left the landscape so silent, pure and peaceful - it was as if it was just me and some divine presence strolling through the forest.

I experienced a similar epiphany as a young man in the midst of a summer rain shower, when all I could hear was the symphony of water cascading from above. There's something about the rain that soothes the soul and washes away all of life's worries.

As I grew older nature continued to inspire and strengthen my faith. Whether it was fishing in the West Virginia mountains, surfing a gentle wave in the Atlantic Ocean, or hiking the trails in the Yosemite Valley, I continued to see evidence of something larger than this life.

Inspiration isn't reserved to just the natural beauty of the landscape, but all the amazing creatures that inhabit it. I'm still astounded by the brilliance of the bluebird, the journey of the Monarch butterfly, the tenderness of a newborn fawn.

Beyond nature I have also witnessed the kind of beauty that has invigorated my faith - the music of Mozart, the brush strokes of Van Gogh and the voice of Mark McVey. Of course there are others, but these stand out most in my mind.

For me, all of these transcendent moments in life are glimpses of God. They are evidence, however brief, of something perfect and divine in a world that can often be so cold and cruel. They are what quell my doubts and rejuvenate my soul.

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