"Is not God in the heights of heaven? And see how lofty are the highest stars!" Job 22:12 (NIV)
by Katie Preston
Growing up, I had a lot of ideas of what I wanted to be “when I grow up.” I had an active imagination so my mind wandered through all the possible career options. When I first got to college I wanted to be a teacher, because I’d had a pretty awesome one in high school. However going into my sophomore year of college, I decided to change tracks. My grandfather had worked with NASA from its humble beginnings in Ohio as the NACA, and been part of the development of the space shuttle program. We had multiple opportunities to go out on the Cape and watch shuttle launches. I was in awe of the magnitude of sending humans into space. So I changed my major to physics, with the intention of getting a dual degree with aerospace engineering.
Katie's grandfather escorting John F. Kennedy
around the Cape Canaveral space center
Along the way, 9/11 happened and I made a major shift in my life focus. I felt called to ministry, but was far enough along in my physics studies that it didn’t make sense to change my major yet again just to complete my undergraduate studies. So I graduated with a BS in Physics and headed off to seminary. Originally I felt called to youth ministry, but over the course of my studies, my focus shifted again and I moved to non-profit ministry, connecting our faith-based principles of caring for Creation to environmental justice. In my mind it was a natural connection – but many others question the thread between faith and science.
As a child, playing in nature and gazing up at the stars, I felt more connected to God than I did in church. Seeing the beauty of the world that God had created was awe-some. My high school youth trips to Montreat felt like an escape to heaven on earth. For me, there was never any dichotomy between faith and science. For me, they always went hand in hand.
Science is a way to understand the world that God created. Unlocking the mysteries of science doesn’t eliminate God, or push God to the background. Delving deeper into science for me is a way to experience God in a new way, both through the natural world and through our own human understanding of the world.
As a runner nowadays, I use my runs as a time to reconnect with God. It is a time for my own mind to shut down, and a chance to let the Spirit move in my life in a way that cannot happen during the business of life outside the run. When I enjoy a beautiful sunset, or see the freshly fallen snow in the morning, I give thanks to God for sharing this beauty with us. It’s an opportunity once again for me to connect with God and get a glimpse of heaven. I hope you can find a way to see the connection and experience God in this marvelous light.
Katie Preston has her BS in Physics from Furman University and M.Div from Columbia Theological Seminary. She is passionate about environmental justice and caring for Creation. As a runner, she is regularly outside experiencing the beauty of God's Creation. She lives in Boston, MA