Living in an Icon

A Program for Growing Closer to Creation and to God

Robert Gottfried and Frederick W. Krueger

Aug/2019, 128 Pages, PAPER, 5.5 x 8.5

ISBN-13: 9781640652361



• Helps bridge the gap between love of God and love of nature
• A separate Facilitator’s Guide accompanies the book for small group usage

Many people experience God most strongly in nature but do not know how to incorporate this experience into their spiritual life. Others question whether Christianity has room for nature at all and seek alternatives elsewhere, often leaving Christianity entirely. This book addresses this crucial issue by providing a resource for fostering a closer relationship with God and creation.

With a step-by-step approach, this book provides a framework integrating asceticism with the contemplation of nature. Each chapter contains a “take it home” section for applying the lessons learned outdoors to everyday life, connecting God and nature as seamless components of spirituality. Topics include gratitude, delight, appreciation, wonder, discernment, reverence, mortality, love, beauty, humility, silence, and hope.

ROBERT GOTTFRIED directs the Center for Religion and Environment at the University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee, and coordinates its “Contemplation and Care for Creation” program, which combines theology, ecology and social science. For twenty years, he has introduced people to the Christian practice of nature contemplation. Visit

FREDERICK W. KRUEGER is the executive director for the Orthodox Fellowship of the Transfiguration, and a committee member of the National Religious Campaign for Creation Care, guiding organizations and religious leaders toward a more just and sustainable world. He co-founded the "Opening the Book of Nature" program and directs trips through "Christ in the Wilderness."


Journey One: Waking Up

Chapter 1        Reorientation

Chapter 2        Noticing

                        Note: Being Embodied

Chapter 3        Delight, Surprise and Wonder

Chapter 4        Appreciation and Respect

Chapter 5        Concentration: Getting in Touch

                        Note: On Expectations: Letting Go

Chapter 6        Thanksgiving

                        Note: Discernment and Diamonds

Journey Two: The Road to Kinship

Chapter 7        Facing Our Mortality

Chapter 8        Reverence

Chapter 9        Hospitality

                        Note: Prying Open the Door of Our Heart

Chapter 10      Humility: Turning Outward

Chapter 11      Sharing Creation’s Pain

Chapter 12      Settling into Silence

Journey Three: Encountering the Burning Bush

The Love Exercises

Chapter 13      Giving in Love

Chapter 14      Responding in Love

Note: Dancing with David: Prayer Revisited

Chapter 15      Returning God’s Love

Chapter 16      Beauty

                        Note: Healing Prayer

Chapter 17      Radiating Beauty

Chapter 18      Revealing the Children of God

Chapter 19      Faith, Vision, and Hope

Chapter 20      Who is My Neighbor?


Initial Reflections

Thinking about Prayer and Water

Prayer and Water Management: Creating a Life Framework

Resources on Prayer

"This is a beautiful book. Reading it is like climbing to the top of tree and looking out at the wondrous radiance of life. It is simple and yet profound, drawing the reader to reflect, gaze and wonder, for in each moment of life, God is shining through."
––Ilia Delio, OSF, Connelly Chair in Christian Theology, Villanova University

"Living in an Icon is a must read! It opened me up in new ways to the beauty of creation and the wonder of being in a loving relationship with God and others, through deeply experiencing God's creation personally."
––Connie Hanson, Director of Christians Caring for Creation, Pasadena, California

"Through a disciplined program of spiritual instruction, Gottfried and Krueger show us how to open God's books of nature and scripture together. Those who wish for a deeper connection with the source of life will find new hope and energy in this book."
––Rev. Dr. Owen Owens, co-chair of the National Religious Coalition of Creation Care

"Living in an Icon: A Program for Growing Closer to Creation and to God is an extremely well written and highly accessible book about spirituality for both beginners and those with more advanced experience in the area of spirituality. The authors lay out a clear and detailed program for developing spiritual practices in line with the ancient Christian tradition and established theological foundations. Living in an Icon presents clear, precise, and accurate instructions on the timeless Christian practices of meditation and contemplation, as well as step-by-step directions on how to engage the natural world as a means of discovering the divine presence in the God's created order. By teaching us to engage ordinary experience and the natural environment with a deep sense of mystery and awe the authors succeed in demonstrating how the spiritual practices and attitudes once the exclusive domain of monks and hermits can be translated into the daily lives or ordinary believers. Designed for both individuals and small communities (there is a separate handbook for group facilitators or retreat guides) this work provides a welcome resource for all those who are interested in awakening their own spiritual lives, continuing to deepen their own journey, or are working with others on developing and deepening theirs."
––Fr. John Markey, Professor of Theology and Director of the PhD in Spirituality Program at Oblate School of Theology

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  • Monastic
  • spirituality
  • creation
  • nature
  • environment
  • contemplation

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