This is my third attempt at writing; the first was a few weeks ago, with the intention that a few photographs depicting the beauty and seasonal rhythms of our natural would be a lift to our souls while we were very much confined to our immediate vicinities. I next picked it up just after my HWH had been diagnosed with the covid virus, but while we were still relatively well. And now a third attempt. In the intervening weeks, as we have passed through what did indeed feel like a fiery trial, the solace I find in God’s good creation has seemed to be magnified.
I think many of us, even those who are nature lovers and base much of our home ed around its study, have become more aware of the gradual unfurling of our world as we’ve moved from the tentative green buds and cheerful daffodils of early spring into its full blown exuberance, all while us humans have been in lockdown. We’ve had more time to contemplate. As W H Davies puts it so well,
“What is this life, if full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare,
No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stand as long as sheep or cows”
For me, first the necessary confinement to our immediate locality, then the illness and lack of energy which made cloud watching a delight, and now this time of convalescence has heightened my awareness and appreciation of the intricate design and stunning beauty of our natural world, and the deep need we have of being more in tune with it.
I’m very aware that for many, walks will have been within the city boundaries, and some will be spending this season entirely within the walls of their own home; may you find extra solace and beauty and freedom within that.
A friend of mine sent me a very timely book, “Soulful Nature” (Draper and Green 2020). In it’s introduction Alan Titchmarsh states “We need to let nature into our our lives and feel its healing properties. This is not some cranky alternative philosophy, it’s the stuff of real life.” I couldn’t agree more. Pulling on a pair of wellies/coat/sun hat and heading out into the nearest green space has always been my number one go to when I’m in need to some soul restoration
Maybe in this extraordinary season we can take time to watch the clouds move slowly across the sky, noticing their subtle changes in shape and colour. Maybe we can deeply study the complexities of a dandelion. Maybe we can watch a parent bird dart back and forth to the nest, hidden deep within a hedge. Maybe we can sit and listen to the bubbling of a stream, the rustling of leaves in the breeze or the birds singing exaltantly. Maybe we can allow our sense of smell to linger over an open rose or lilac flower. Maybe we can push some boundaries in foraging and taste something new from nature’s store cupboard. Maybe we can be still for a long while and just enjoy the sense of the breeze on our cheeks or the wind whipping against our bodies.
So please join me in my amble through some of our lockdown walks…
So, the wonderful rhythm of God’s good creation continues, despite great global upheaval. And I’m not sure if it’s just me, but I sense that it is especially jubilant, as we slow down and allow our world to breathe more freely. As a Christian, I believe God gave us the awesome responsibility to be good stewards of the world he created. A world originally in balance and for us to enjoy. He created it, sustains it and will bring it to its conclusion at a time known only to Himself. I feel sad when I see so much “environmental anxiety”. Anxiety can overwhelm. I do however, feel a need for “environmental repentance”; saying sorry for the way we have mistreated the resources God entrusted to us, the times we have not been good stewards, and resolving to live more respectfully.
As I take more time to sense, study and delight in the extraordinary beauty of of a British spring, these words come to mind.
“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.”
So, as I endeavour to tread more lightly on this earth, I continue to find healing and restoration within it, as the sheer beauty of its design points me to the unshakable love of my Heavenly Father.