Our bug bitten, sleep deprived great-niece returns from her week-long camp experience at Lutherdale Bible Camp in Elkhorn, Wisconsin. As she shares her stories, I sense that she has grown spiritually as a result of experiencing God in the elements of Earth, Water, Wind and Fire. Her stories ignite my own memories of the same camp at the same age. She talks about the challenge of canoeing against a head wind to the island for a picnic, and the joy of cooling off in the lake after climbing “the tower.” She recalls the mesmerizing effect of staring at the fire during evening worship, and the realization that we are all just a small part of this planet called, Earth!
Nature is a God-given gift that we often take for granted. It seems that the outdoors are something or someplace that we retreat to only during vacations or if a child asks us to play with them outside. Sights and sounds, smells and sensations abound in natural settings that surround us in our state, our country and our own backyards. And yet, if you are like me, I forget to look outside for what I often need! Unencumbered retreat space, a quiet haven, and a place that can give physical and emotional escape…gifts that only NATURE can offer.
When my sister lived through the Northridge, California earthquake in 1994, our family saw the devastating consequences of nature’s power. News reports show the havoc that ensues after floods, hurricanes and wildfires; humankind is at the mercy of the elements. Nevertheless, nature can also promote healing and a sense of calm when you witness a sunset, star gaze, listen to the cry of a loon, or inhale the sweet smell of rain-soaked earth.
If you are experiencing loss or feeling overwhelmed by life stresses, my advice to you is to get in touch with nature. Walking through a park, buying yourself a bouquet of flowers, shopping at a farmer’s market or going to an outdoor concert. Simple, inexpensive ways to expose yourself to the healing power of the natural elements. Through opening ourselves up to truths greater than ourselves, we can look at our place in the natural world and allow ourselves to hear God’s voice.
Bereavement can leave you feeling lost or abandoned by God and questioning His plan for your life. Submerging yourself in God’s world, might allow you to experience new activities and to risk living beyond your pain. You just might find your body, mind and spirit becoming stronger. How might YOU experience God’s presence in your life through nature? Will you see God and become awed by his ability to root a fragile flower in the midst of a rocky ledge? Will you hear God whispering your name as a warm breeze rustles in the leaves of a tree? Just look into an ocean or lake and you will see the reflection of the one and only YOU – God’s greatest gift of all! She longs to cradle you in Her arms and to carry you through the dark valleys into a new day. Let God’s gift of nature strengthen you and bring you to the peace that passes all understanding.