ARE YOU FEELING depleted, empty, and pushed to your limits? Are you considering tossing your phone out the window the next time it rings? Before you do, the solution to these questions may be found by embracing nature.
Whether you prefer to bike through sequoia forests, float down a lazy river, hang out at the park, or watch the sunset, you can enjoy the healing power of nature. Nature is a source of amazement, delight, enjoyment, and belonging. Nature has the power to transport us from tragedy to joy.
After two years of pandemic living, too much death, high unemployment, supply-chain interruptions, and world disasters, we have reached our capacity to adapt. Our world feels upside down. The story of nature is intimately intertwined in the Franciscan family’s history. While statues and birdbaths of St. Francis adorn many backyard gardens, I believe this significant saint offers us lessons and examples of nature’s importance in our lives.
St. Francis was a man of his time—experiencing many similar issues as we are. While many religious orders of the time “retreated” from the natural world, St. Francis and his companions embraced nature. They sought solace within caves and isolated places, trekked across the seasonal valleys, and enjoyed the vantage point of climbing mountains at important life transitions.
When we immerse ourselves in nature as Francis did, we step back from the day’s worries and demands to become reoriented in the beauty before us. When we step into nature, we are reminded of our place and of our belonging in something and someone much larger than ourselves.
Near the end of his life, St. Francis composed his Canticle of the Creatures, singing of the interconnectedness of all creation—we are all sisters and brothers. His poem mentions the radiant Brother Sun, the precious Sister Moon and Stars, the pure Sister Water, and the playful and powerful Brother Fire. Experiencing nature allows us to connect these qualities with our needs.
Embrace the Wonder
An ever-changing nature shows us stability and order in a world of uncertainty and chaos. The seasons of spring, summer, fall, and winter accompany us through the cycle of loss and renewal—much like the paschal mystery—while we exist in our enclosed spaces. Nature’s divinely ordered and colorful palette—with its varied textures, scents, and sounds—creates a sense of wonder and reminds us that we are all intimately connected. Above all else, nature makes us realize that this moment is a unique gift. There is no better moment to be inspired than now.
So join me for a stroll. It could be along your favorite stretch of beach or a country road. Wherever you go, I hope you feel your intimate interconnectedness with the whole of creation and are restored!