Archive for July 2nd, 2013

July 2, 2013

Encountering the Divine in Nature

by Melissa Harding

Summer Reruns: Just like your favorite television shows go on hiatus for the summer, so does the blog. We will be running eighteen summer camps in eight weeks, so we will be a little busy! In place of original posts, Tuesdays will now feature some of the blog’s most popular posts from the last year. Fridays will feature that week’s camps, with pictures, crafts and lesson ideas for parents and educators.

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“Isn’t it splendid to think of all the things there are to find out about? It just makes me feel glad to be alive–it’s such an interesting world. It wouldn’t be half so interesting if we knew all about everything, would it? There’d be no scope for imagination then, would there?” – L.M. Montgomery,  Anne of Green Gables

Anne of Green Gables, one of children’s literature’s most beloved characters, had much to say about everything. Independent Anne was highly creative, believed strongly in allowing “scope for imagination,” and had a full heart for others; and she also had an unwavering faith in the spirit of the natural world around her. In one scene in the book, when asked to say her prayers, Anne responds,, “If I really wanted to pray I’ll tell you what I’d do. I’d go out into a great big field all alone or in the deep, deep woods and I’d look up into the sky—up—up—up—into that lovely blue sky that looks as if there was no end to its blueness. And then I’d just feel a prayer.” 

Many people in fact describe experiences such as walking in the woods as “feeling a prayer”. This idea, that the natural world is a spiritual source of solace, wonder and beauty is nothing new. Countless authors over the years have written that being in nature awakens a spiritual hunger in their souls. That nature stirs our hearts is clearly true; the involuntary reverence that we have for baby birds in a nest or dappled sunlight shining through the trees shows us that. Human beings crave the peace that nature gives our souls.   Many times I have been moved to gratitude by the beauty that I have found sitting under a tree or walking along a wooded trail. Nature is the perfect place to encounter the divine, whatever divinity you believe in, or even if your divinity is nature itself.

This is important because most of the moments in our lives are very un-amazing. Paying bills, pumping gas, buying groceries, and checking air filters are not particularly riveting or inspirational chores. We need moments of inspiration to help us through the rest of life. No matter what your sense of spirituality is, every person can relate to feeling a sense of the sacred in nature. Just as being in nature helps calm and focus children, it does the same for adults. We may have different worries and tasks than our children do, but being outside and experiencing the sensory pleasures of nature refocuses and refreshes us all. Teaching your children that being outside can make them feel light and transcendent is just as important as teaching them the names of trees or their multiplication tables; giving them the ability to take a time out to rest their spirits is essential.

For some people, organized religion provides a path to follow and a way to see the world. Others find a sense of purpose in the natural world, science, art, computers or more. Whatever category you belong in, we all aspire to know that we are here for a reason. We all strive to see a little of the divine – to see behind the curtain. As Anne says, “It has always seemed to me, ever since early childhood, amid all the commonplaces of life, I was very near to a kingdom of ideal beauty. Between it and me hung only a thin veil. I could never draw it quite aside, but sometimes a wind fluttered it and I caught a glimpse of the enchanting realms beyond – only a glimpse – but those glimpses have always made life worthwhile.”

Go outside today and give your soul a rest; maybe you too will get a glimpse of enchanting realms beyond.

The above picture was taken by Christie Lawry.

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