A Minister's Guide to the Spiritual Side of Nature (page 2)

By — Nature Deficit Disorder Special Edition Contributor
Updated on May 17, 2010

Healing Through Nature

There is something in these encounters with nature that nourishes us from the inside out, that builds reverence for life. There is something there that holds us and heals us, which sustains us throughout our lives when everything else falls away, that allows us to revel in our own aliveness and feed our imagination. In a world which pushes us to be more and more committed to work and projects and good causes, finding a way to engage regularly with the natural world is life-saving.  In a world in which we are so often bombarded with what is broken and out of balance, connecting with the natural world is a balm to our bruised and aching hearts.

Healing and restoration are possible. Look around - the evidence is everywhere. Making sure that our children have unstructured time outside will build their awareness and trust. Nature can be sustaining to them throughout their lives.

Repetition and Rhythm

Repetition is important; think of it as spiritual practice. Like hearing uncommon musical forms or tasting exotic foods, kids may not know what to do without structured outdoor time at first, but they will gradually build their capacity and appreciation.

  • Go outside.
  • Sit in the sun.
  • Walk in the rain.
  • Taste snowflakes.
  • Notice.
  • Don’t make elaborate plans; just be outside. Just be.

Spirituality and Nature

Whatever your idea of God or the infinite, time outside, especially time without special planned activities, or even talking, helps us  to see that we are part of  the unfolding of something beyond ourselves.  We are part of the great story of creation.

I know I can regain my own balance when I visit the woods. I know I will find some of the healing I seek. Savoring the natural world is, in itself, a healing prayer of gratitude. When despair grows in me, I need to be with the beauty of the natural world. Like Wendell Berry, I need to rest in the “grace of wild things.” From that place, I trust I will eventually find my way back to my community. Then together, with all of our collective friendships and creativity and learning and love, I can imagine a healed world and work to make it so.

The Rev. Julia Older grew up in Atlanta, Georgia several blocks from a small creek. Now she lives in a cottage, which actually overlooks a creek. A graduate of Starr King School for the Ministry, she is happy and proud to be serving as the minister of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Redwood City, CA ( Her two extraordinary daughters are married to equally wonderful men and have each given her two fabulous grandchildren.


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