My friend, Shirley Showalter, has a blog whose posts I never miss. Recently she asked, “What do you do when the world seems wrong, and you are sad, lonely, confused, or anxious?”
I responded, “When I’m in a place of discouragement and overwhelm, I submerge myself in nature. In my experience, the two things that people yearn for the most are: (1) to love, (2) to be loved. It’s in nature that I find reassurance for both of these needs.”
Shirley replied, “I would love to read about how love reaches you in nature. It’s easier to feel one’s own love going out, I think, than universal love flowing in. Do you agree? Maybe you will answer this question in a future post!”
Hence, this post was born.
I realize that everyone’s experience is different, and people embrace many different beliefs. This post just happens to be about how nature informs me of love.
Nature has taught me a lot about faith, it helps me to draw near to what many people refer to as God, and others call Goddess, Yahweh, Jehovah, Jesus, Moses, Allah, Krishna, Light, Mohammed, Supreme Being, Buddha, All That Is, Source Energy, Shiva, Universe, Higher Self, Creator, Brahman, Spirit, Mother Earth, Father Sky, the list goes on.
It’s my experience that the name we use isn’t as important as our relationship and interaction.
How does love reach me in nature? When I contemplate earth’s beauty—especially the cycles, the repeated refrains—it touches me deeply, and I feel loved. And in this love, I am recharged. In this love, I find reserves of strength I didn’t know I had. In turn, I’m able to love more deeply.
How does nature make you feel?
I am with you on this one, Laurie. The Japanese call it Forest Bathing: nothing better to heal the soul than being lost in Nature, inhaling the scents and listening to bird songs. I do this everyday while walking Beano. 👍❤
Fatima — I love the term “Forest Bathing.” Healing, indeed! 🙂
Walking my dog gets me out in nature and makes me feel peaceful and so grateful. It is the best medicine, physically, mentally, and spiritually.
Darlene — I agree that it’s the best medicine. Especially when you share it with a four-legged friend! 🙂
Interesting idea, Laurie. And leave it to Shirley to ask such a penetrating question. Like you, I am surrounded by nature here where I live and I feel compelled, daily, to get out in it and soak it up. I would not have called it love that fills me, but peace, a trusting in the power that is life. The way my woods change, not just year to year but season to season reminds me how very little I actually control. There’s serenity in that recognition, one that I’ve too long taken for granted. Thank you for this important reminder.
Janet — And you’re fortunate enough to live smack dab in the middle of it. 🙂
Your Love in Nature message came at just the right time.
RoseAnn — I’m so glad. Thank you for letting me know. 🙂
This is beautiful. Nature gives me a sense of peace and calm. It’s a feeling of being part of something bigger than yourself.
Michelle — Peace. Calm. Ahhh…
As John Burroughs said, “I go to Nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in tune once more.” Being in tune with nature fills me with gratitude and peace and puts my little life into better perspective.
Barbara — I love the idea have having my senses “put in tune.” Thank you for sharing that! 🙂
When I am in Natural surroundings first thing I feel is unthreatened.There is no one trying to prove a point,nobody pushing their ego driven agenda and so on,I can exist without any pretense and just be and love myself.
This is how Nature nourishes me.
Roamer — Well said. Very well said! Thank you.
Oh yes. In the macro world I see through the lens of my camera I see things that could only be crafted by a divine hand. In the stars and the sky I see majesty my mind can barely comprehend. In the turning of the seasons I find peace. Nature nourishes and teaches me.
Linda — I especially enjoy the photos you take through your macro lens. They’re astonishingly beautiful! 🙂
A walk in nature, even if it’s only the ‘tamed wilderness’ that I call my backyard, is sometimes all I need to clear my head.
LoisaJay — Yes, even in the “tamed wilderness.” Me too 🙂
Thank you so much, Laurie, for taking my invitation seriously and for writing this lovely gem of an essay. The cycles of nature do comfort us. I will share this insight today with one who is suffering. “This too shall pass” is a promise imbedded in every living thing and plays a role in every religion. My faith connects the idea of a resurrected God with nature’s most dependable lesson–that out of death comes new life, eternal life.
Shirley — You’re welcome. Thank YOU for posing the question.
Nature is an excellent teacher. I like the way you phrased: “…nature’s most dependable lesson—that out of death comes new life, eternal life.”
Nature always reminds me that there’s no such thing as a catastrophe, or an end. When a tree falls, it becomes a place of new life for others. A forest has a way of reminding me that everything is okay.
Arlene — yes, Yes, YES indeed! I love what you wrote: “When a tree falls, it becomes a place of new life for others.” 🙂
I’m pretty much in your camp about Nature, Laurie. It’s the one entity/thing/force/energy source in which I have the most faith. Probably because it’s the nature of the Earth and the Universe to always be evolving despite what we humans do to have an impact on our environment. As you said, the cycles are predictable and reliable.
I’m comforted knowing that I’m a microscopic part of the Earth and an infinitesimal speck in the Universe. When you see yourself in that way, you realize that your actions have zero effect in the grand scheme of things. It keeps my ego in check, I guess. 🙂 Yes, we affect those closest to us, and a few megalomaniacs alter human history in relatively tiny ways relative to the history of the Universe or the history of the planet (Napoleon and Hitler, for example). But this marble in space has been here for billions of years and it’s quite likely humanity will cease to exist here someday. Although we may figure out a way to colonize another moon or planet and continue on for some time. But in the grand scheme of things, Earth and the Universe don’t care much about the fate of mankind.
Sort of a fatalist mentality, but it reinforces my philosophy: “Don’t sweat the small stuff. And it’s all small stuff.” I’ll do what I can to make my immediate world a better place and be the best person I can be, but I’ll never lose sleep over feeling an obligation to “save the world.”
Chris — And if we do colonize another planet, I suspect we’ll wreak havoc on it as we’ve done to the one. We’ve already left trash on the moon. It seems we’re fond of “peeing in our own pool” (and other pools as well).
For me, it is the sounds of nature, as well as the beauty I find in it. The most soothing thing for me is the ocean – or any body of water – the sounds of the water, its movement.
Carol — yes, Yes, YES! The sounds, too! 🙂
In Nature, I feel embraced by life. I know I am not alone and that I am loved. Thanks, Laurie.
Rebecca — I love what you wrote. Thank you for sharing 🙂
I’m blessed to have a grand old oak in the back yard where I live now. It’s trunk is more than thrice my circumference. It towers over the top of our building roof. Its’ branches are gnarly and ever growing upward toward the sun. And, it oozes wisdom. If I’m having a particularly stressful day (lately challenged by numerous home office technology breakdowns), I may find myself either simply looking out toward it and find comfort in its presence. Or, I might go out and stand next to it (with its permission of course) and shower in its strength. Nature offers us a multitude of these moments. I’m grateful our coalition of NE-IL and SE-Wisconsin groups were able to secure the establishment of our bi-state National Wildlife Refuge in 2012 (Hackmatack National Wildlife Refuge) … our continued work to gain parcels of land from willing sellers to keep expanding the refuge to it’s intended size, will secure the benefits of nature for generations to come. The 10 years I spent on the Hackmatack Board taught me so much about conservation and various aspects of natures’ gifts.
Audrey — I love that your friend, the grand old oak, “oozes wisdom.” THANK YOU for the work you do to protect our natural resources 🙂
Everywhere I’ve lived, nature sustains me: rural PA, then two homes in Florida with majestic pines and oaks. We’ve never lived in luxurious, gated communities, but nature has been my constant teacher, which puts me in mind of Wordsworth’s Tables Turned:
Books! ’tis a dull and endless strife:
Come, hear the woodland linnet,
How sweet his music! on my life,
There’s more of wisdom in it.
And hark! how blithe the throstle sings!
He, too, is no mean preacher:
Come forth into the light of things,
Let Nature be your teacher. https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/45557/the-tables-turned
Like Shirley, My faith connects the idea of a resurrected God with nature’s most dependable lesson–that out of death comes new life, eternal life.”
Great post, Laurie, which has resonated with SO many readers today! 🙂
Marian — Thank you for sharing Wordsworth’s Tables Turned and the link. And most definitely yes, “…that out of death comes new life, eternal life.” 🙂
Laurie, thank you for sharing this lovely exchange between you and Shirley. Your post brings to mind a Labor Day weekend trip many years ago. We were visiting Bob’s brother and his wife in southeastern Oregon. The week before a fire had consumed a large amount of land and trees, and I was surprised when they suggested we go hiking through the “remains.” Imagine my surprise when nature taught me a lesson. Despite all the devastation and charred trees and ground, there were birds foraging, bunnies dashing around, and a deer or two stuck their heads over a hill. The greatest surprise of all were the green shoots already making their way into this blackened landscape. New life from the debris of the last forest standing on that ground.
Sherrey — I enjoyed reading the story you shared, and the happily ever after: “New life from the debris of the last forest standing on that ground.” 🙂
This is such a lovely post, and the replies from readers are inspiring too. Nature’s seasonal changes remind us of our own changes – of growing older, certainly, but also of the constant possibility of renewal and growth. The colours and variety of the foliage and the native birds in our garden are daily joys for which am I always grateful. And yes, the ‘Divine’ in whatever way we understand it, is definitely at work in nature.
Carmel — “…the constant possibility of renewal and growth.” I love it! 🙂
The beauty of nature provided throughout our country soothes me, connects me with the spiritual world, and helps reassure me that our world here on earth will survive its turmoil.
Dawn — I second the motion! 🙂
Laurie, excellent post, especially now when we are buffeted day in and day out with the most astonishing news items. World-changing, life-changing, mind-changing and terrain-changing facts that leave us torn, confused and angry, everything seems off kilter and sliding. That’s one side. It’s when you get out from under a roof and away from the pavement that you see the sky, the horizon, the living Earth beneath your feet. The air is cleaner and a tonic to simply breathe. Nature is available to all but the most dedicated of city-dwellers, and that because of self-denial. This is the space you need to center yourself, to morph and expand into the New, recognizing change and remaining tender enough to grow with it. The natural world thrives with and on change, not always peaceful or safe. Or swift. So I go outside and play everyday because I can. Because it makes me glad to see another day.
Sandi — And every now and then I get to see photos of you and yours outside enjoying nature. I loved the photo of the grands down at the creek! You’re helping them to cultivate some terrific memories!
From a childhood fraught with uncertain adults, escaping to the wilds always made me feel safe … still does. 🙂
Widdershins — yes, Yes, YES! 🙂
You’ve seen my posts and photos, so you know my almost daily walks are important. In the first days after my mom’s death in April, it really helped me to walk outside and see flowers, hear birds, toss a stone in the river as I thought of how my mom had lived across it. . . I almost always feel better after a walk outside.
Merril — Walks are right up there with laughter as being the best medicine.
Thanks for making me think of Nature in a different way, Laurie. I never described Nature as teaching me to love and to be loved. But I certainly know that Nature calms me, restores me, gives me a sense of balance. I walk in Nature daily. I commune with the birds and squirrels who pass by. I meditate as I walk amongst the trees, and I sometimes lose my body and just feel my soul lifting. That’s a whole lotta love! ❤
Pam — I love what you wrote: “…and I sometimes lose my body and just feel my soul lifting.” Yes! 🙂
xoxoxo To our souls lifting…every day.
Nature makes me full of wonder and at peace like no other . In normal times when I felt upset or anxious I’d walk out in our local woods or hills and it would ease the negative emotions. Now , I find nature essential like breathing. My walks each day are like Mother Earth is giving me a huge hug . If that isn’t love I don’t know what it .
Cherry — I love that you’re addicted to your daily walks in nature like you’re addicted to breathing! 🙂
BloggingBoehme — I’m glad it resonated with you. Thank you for letting me know. 🙂
Bingo….I can totally relate…wonderful blog Laurie….❤
Suryanshi — I’m glad this post resonated with you. Thank you for letting me know 🙂
Nature is my ultimate balancer. When things are moving to far one way or the other I surround myself with nature or at least sit in front of the bird feeder and just watch things fly by
Stay well and laugh when you can
Mr. Ohh’s — I love watching birds at our feeders, especially the hummingbirds 🙂
I feel like nature is very tranquil. I mean it’s our home, you can learn anything from nature and you can find yourself and peace just by taking a moment to reflect on everything nature has to offer.
Alura — Yes, indeed.
Nature is definitely a natural way find peace and be at calm. I honestly feel so grounded when I am out in nature🙂
Thrifty Campers — I wholeheartedly agree 🙂
Sharing a short film I made about this. ‘How Forests Heal People’
Nitin Das — Thak you for sharing this link 🙂
This is a lovely post – as nature has been my refuge for a long time, it’s now become my sanity. I’m following you for sure!
NatureNurturesBest — I’m glad that this post resonated with you. Thank you for letting me know. Thank you for the follow, too 🙂
I love nature too. This pandemic has made me realize that I miss nature so much.
Song of the Heart — Oh, yes! Absence really does make the heart grow fonder.