Lately, my family and I have been craving nature; I mean like that kind of craving when you seek comfort in a bowl of ice cream, a long distance call with your mom, or diving into a favorite verse that first moved you long ago in Sunday School.
Our craving led us to make a point about getting outside every day, and also down a path of exploration. We wanted to know more about why—in the hustle and bustle of our urban lives—nature seemed to be something we only thought about once in awhile.
When did nature become a luxury or afterthought? What was it that was leading our society away from embracing our natural surroundings and was there anything we could do about it? What was God’s plan for my family and his most cherished gift to us, nature?
Psalm Chapter 104:24 says “O LORD, how manifold are your works! In wisdom has thou made them all: the earth is full of your riches.”
And in Isaiah Chapter 42:5, “Thus says God the LORD, he that created the heavens, and stretched them out; he that spread forth the earth, and that which comes out of it; he that gives breath unto the people upon it, and spirit to them that walk therein.”
These scriptures gave us the inspiration to continue our journey and stoked our curiosity for finding solutions that worked for our friends and family.We then stumbled upon Nature Principle, by Richard Louv, Founder of the Children in Nature Network and also a wonderful book called Last Child In the Woods.
These books showed that we were far from alone in both our desire to reconnect with nature and help spread the good word of God’s magical creation that was not only free, but accessible to everyone. We began to take stock and assess our current ‘nature footprint’.
We were thrilled to find that we were among the top 20% of North Americans in terms of our time spent outdoors. But we were also amazed at what we were missing out on. We had a world of potential to still explore, the journey was just beginning as we sought to double our time spent in nature.
Our family walks, backyard gardening, and summer camping trips were a great start, giving us an ideal foundation. Then we set some goals:
We would all find our favorite sports and aim to play them once a week. For me it was hiking the incredible trails here on the West Coast of BC, for my son it was his first soccer team, and for my wife it was cycling to get groceries and meet with friends.
We would make it a priority to identify at least one new creature a week and get to know more about it. We met a bear, worms, a flock of different birds and we even found dinosaur bones; our son may have even taught us more than what we taught him.
Perhaps out of necessity, we dove into a world of planting, digging, trimming and caring for our new garden. It’s true that to this day we still can’t get the green off our hands or the dirt from under our fingernails, but there were times when darkness was setting in and we didn’t want to leave this incredible world of wonder.
Perhaps the most fun, we implemented a rule that whenever we were in the car, whether on a short jaunt to arts class or our infamous long haul trips pulling our Airstream, we would take stock of our surroundings and talk about them for as long as we could see them; mountains, rivers, fields of incredibly yellow canola and some breathtaking views all made for memories and a lasting connection to God’s greatest gift.
We hope you are inspired by our journey and agree that the simple connection to nature is at the root of the future of our health, the sustainability of our planet and at the core of strengthening our spiritual journey and devotion to our Lord.
Here are some wonderful articles to get you started:
We also encourage you to search for meaning and references to nature in your regular reading of scripture and launch into conversation with your friends, family and congregation about your ‘nature footprint’ and the potential to build it out.
From our family to yours, go outside, think outside (the box) and you will be amazed at the effects on your mind, body, soul and spiritual awareness.
With love and dirt under our fingernails,
Richard, MaryAnn, Reston and Parker Deacon , January 2016
The Deacon family has been attending Tenth Church for the past six years.