The landscape before me is like a thin covering of paint covering the surface of the earth. It is thin, fragile, possibly applied with care and thought and frequently admired by observers. Given the right tools, as with most paint coverings, it can easily be removed. Technology has enabled us to emulate nature's form and texture within 3D animation software and here a pixelated landscape can be manufactured to mimic and exaggerate natural processes and structures. Yet the one thing it does not able to have is an actual organic life to enable it to live and exist independently. The real landscape is set before me - the painted surface of nature and life that has been applied to an inorganic substrate. All this is life. The trees, the grasses, the soil - it all exists as a living ecological system. And we can sit and admire the painting and wonder at the mysteries of the painter.
As I sit against a tree sheltered from the cold wind, I am aware of the contact that I have with the ground, and this ground extends way from me connecting all places on the planet. I feel connectedness and grounded - part of the trees and all that surrounds me - and then when I am back on my bike and moving off into the winter sunshine I am free to go wherever I am able.
On a day like today, when the sunlight and clouds dance above the transparentness of the winter's day, the light create new visual textures and forms that are transient and beautiful. The painting is alive with imbued creativity.
How do we look beyond the painting? Is it just a thing of temporal beauty or is there more to it than that? How do we look to honouring, resoecting and working with this created form and not just use it in an act of consumerism?
Where are the true wisdom seekers and visionaries who can develop a sound framework of leadership, economic stability and spiritual depth that can be accepted by people in this post-modernist world. Is the fragmentation of culture, religion and society sustainable? How can we be brought together to form new ways of living that can become more honouring to the planet upon which we live. How can we protect ourselves from ourselves and the future? You can't just sit back, look at the painting and say "God will save me - I can't deal with all this big picture, long term or vaguely spiritual stuff". That is just ignoring the ability we have as humans to find within us the spiritual strength to take control of our personal development and any responsibility for our actions that may be affecting this earth. Denial of the intrinsic value of our fragile earth is self-indulgent escapism, sinful and ignores the possibility that Jesus could have a salvific effect on nature. His blood, after all, may have touched the wooden cross - a symbol of the natural world perhaps.