To the contemporary mind, Father Peter Milward could hardly be classified a scientist, yet he seeks and conveys-as did Francis of Assisi in his Canticle of the Sun
-an unmistakably true knowledge of the natural world. Intent on restoring the science of ecology to a more comprehensive understanding of the interdependence of all living things, Milward turns from the Baconian concept of knowledge as power toward a wider and more literary consideration of knowledge as humility. Drawing heavily from a host of literary masters and poets, he ruminates on all matter of the natural world-earth, nature, heaven, animals, man, woman, knowledge, and life-and then contemplates humanity's need to listen to the earth itself through the voices of wind, fire, rain, river, flower, insect, and bird. At first glance, Milward's approach may seem more romantic than intellectual, but his literary and theological background is solid. His chapter 'Wuthering Heights' considers the dual nature of wind as both a still, small voice and a rushing torrent. 'How can two such different, even opposing images be used of the divine presence without contradiction?' asks Milward. His response references Elijah in the cave as the Lord passes by and the 'turbulence and turmoil' present both at the creation of the world and the Spirit's descent on the disciples at Pentecost. Increasingly cacophonic, man in the industrial world seems to conspire against Nature's harmony, and Milward contends only humility born of self-knowledge can restore what Wordsworth calls the 'still, sad music of humanity' which leads to prayer and praise.
An Eighth Day View:
Ecology is too important to be left to self-appointed "environmentalists." Drawing together the wisdom of the Bible with his vast knowledge of the Western literary tradition (Shakespeare, Hopkins, Eliot and many others) and his experience of nature as a longtime resident of Japan, Fr. Milward conveys the beauty that those attentive to God's creation discover. He reawakens us to the sense of contemplative wonder and delight that children experience but that adults, in the busy hubbub of urban and suburban life, so easily forget. Each short chapter is a conversation with a spiritual master, guiding us toward the pearls of God's glory imprinted in the delicate patterns of the world.