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Medicine For Our Hurried Souls: Nature

family on bridge in woods

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard." Psalm 19:1-3

Our culture applauds busyness and hurry. If you're not busy it seems like perhaps you're missing out on something. Hustle is a buzz word. Hurry seems to find me despite my efforts time and again and if you're anything like most of the people I know, chances are that you aren't that different. To be honest, I think so much of our hustling has fear behind it. Fear of not achieving enough, not making enough money, or missing out on something. The thing we could be missing out on could be a fun experience, a friendship or us or our children not being accomplished enough. I think it's so important we really do our own soul searching and find out what is behind our own personal rushing. What are we afraid of? What are you afraid of?

Over and over again, I determine to live at a slower pace and to not rush from thing to thing because I have a value to not be in a hurry so that I can be present and available. I don't want my life to be characterized by rushing. Then time passes, and my pace increases and I'm stressed out. Inevitably I check my calendar and notice a link between my stress level and a lack of margin and space. For me, that's when it's time to dial back, reevaluate and make some space. 

I look at the life of Jesus and I see a full and abundant life. He saw people, he taught, he healed, he attended parties, he healed many, he got worn down, he practiced rest and retreated in solitude to pray.  From Scriptures, it sounds like his life was full of good things.  But do I see rushing? No. I look at nature- the very creation of the hands of God himself. I see incredible beauty, diversity, vibrant life, death, and rhythms. Do I see hurry? Just the occasional squirrel gathering nuts. Otherwise, the deer and other creatures seem pretty chill.  Time and again I've thought about this. I watch the trees outside of my window every afternoon during my quiet time. I let my mind wander as I watch the leaves quietly sit or gently blow or wildly wave depending on the wind or lack of. I observe the busy bees buzzing from clover to clover in the tall grass gathering food and pollinating plants.  Yet is their work characterized by frenzied hurry? I don't believe it is. 

Time and again I sit and watch nature and its unhurried pace which contrasts sharply with my scattered insides. I allow my hurried insides and shallow breathing to slowly calm as I ground myself watching the clouds float by, the leaves rustle and the birds soar. My very pace of life is challenged again and again when the pace of my mind, and soul don't match the pace of the creation surrounding me. Creation isn't in a hurry. Our Creator isn't in a hurry. Why are we? 

If you ache like me to slow down a bit, to quiet yourself so that you can hear the whisper of God better, to not live at a frenzied pace that sucks the life out of your soul, take your cue from nature. Allow it to impact you. Get out in it.

Nature study is the rhythm I'm currently working to build into our every day family life.  Perhaps we could all take a lesson from Charlotte Mason when she challenged us to "Never be within doors when you can rightly be without." She also aptly stated,"We are all meant to be naturalists, each in his own degree, and it is inexcusable to live in a world so full of the marvels of plant and animal life and to care for none of these things."

Today my family took a hike together. We foraged for mushrooms. The place my husband took us was gorgeous. My children were fully alive. Our phones didn't get service there. It felt like my soul could take a big exhale. We observed nature, we hunted for interesting mushrooms to draw at home and we got muddy. The big woods put my own smallness into perspective.The weather wasn't perfect. In fact, we almost didn't go because it was supposed to rain. But the imperfect weather ended up being gorgeous and refreshing. There was a mist in the forest. There was fog settled on the ground. It was honestly breathtaking.  I don't know a better way that we could have spent this morning. We ended up exploring for over two hours and walking over three miles- with a six and three year old! I told my husband at the beginning we should plan for about a mile or a mile and a half, but we surprised ourselves!!!

For you, maybe letting nature be your medicine starts with you sitting and looking out your window for fifteen minutes. Maybe you get a bird feeder and watch the birds with your kids. But, eventually get out there and take a deep breathe. Maybe your family can go for a hike in the woods for the first time together. The first time is the hardest! But you'll be surprised as you watch your kids rise to the occasion and their natural curiosity about life explode. If you try it out, a great way to get your kids excited is a simple scavenger hunt, or to go hunting for something specific like mushrooms. Just make space to be in creation and see what happens. Take your time. If you have kids, follow their lead and their pace. They tend to move at a much less hurried pace than we have learned. Look around and soak it in. Learn one new plant or insect name. 

Before everything was so modernized, nature was our home. Creation and humanity are completely intertwined. God placed Adam and Eve into a garden of all places!!! Nature surrounded us. It calmed us. It taught us. It healed us. It revealed God to us. Sometimes, especially for our hurried time, we need nature to be our medicine. 

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