I have been feeling ashamed and hypocritical lately. I write urging others to get out and enjoy nature, to enhance their connection to nature and God. Yet while I hike and play in streams each workday, I find that on my days off I am meeting friends for lunch, reading, or sitting at a coffeehouse. Despite my guilt, I couldn’t help but feel my heart bursting with love and my soul warmed and nourished on these days.
Today I passed a woman sitting next to the river at the park, reading. While she could choose to read anywhere, she chose to read in that particular place. It occurred to me that enjoying nature does not mean performing some aerobic activity. While I sat in the Starbucks pavilion, I was enjoying nature, just in a different way. I sat in the breeze, feeling the warm sunshine on my cheeks and shoulders. The smell of fall and bonfires permeated the air. I savored the taste of the fall harvest of spices and vegetables in my tea and pumpkin bread. I even found myself, while not an avid birder, searching for the name of the house finch which politely waited to bounce over and happily help clean up anything that should fall from my plate.
God filled the world with diversity; even the changes of the seasons give us a sense of rejuvenation, so why should our downtime be any different? As John Muir said, “Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul.” God gave us everything we need to heal ourselves in nature, it is up to you how you choose to use it.
I encourage you to think of nature’s blessings which God has granted us. Enjoying nature doesn’t have to mean taking up hiking or outdoor sports. You can cook a meal with seasonal vegetables. You can look out the window and chuckle at the squirrels running in circles. You can listen to the rain hitting your rooftop. Or you can just be.
Just be, in nature.