By Stefanie Keith
In this challenging season of isolation and unrest, I have found myself looking inward a lot more.
There have been times I have cried, times I have been proud of the kindness in others.
There have been times I have prayed that my own shortcomings would be revealed so I can work to be part of the solution and hope for the future. Coping and planning, trying to be strategic in my doings every day.
Nature Can Help Us Cope
Turns out that all our coping and pondering, planning and striving takes a lot of energy. It’s easy to get overwhelmed, worn out, and worn down. So sometimes we just need to breathe.
In these times I go outside and walk. Out into my backyard amidst the trees and birds, grass and fresh air. Taking in the sounds of nature- bird songs, a neighbor’s cow lowing, my goats greeting me from the yard. Noticing the scent of newly blooming wildflowers along the ditch bank. Sensing the breeze as it rustles the leaves overhead. Feeling the sun’s warmth on my face and arms.
I breathe in. And I breathe out.
I’ve not been one for yoga myself, but I understand the draw. Intentionally clearing one’s mind and focusing only on each breath, experiencing the most present moment alone.
Spending time in nature is like meditation- appreciating the present moment in your present surroundings and letting everything else go for the time being.
My dad used to take me hiking as a young girl. Growing up in Wisconsin, we found hidden trails among lush, green forests which led to flowing rivers and unexpected fauna. There were glacial formations, dozens of different trees, occasional wildlife, and incredible views all around.
And what I remember most fondly about those times is the peace they brought me. What a gift my dad gave me in taking me with him into nature to enjoy and experience all that it has to offer!
Let’s Help Our Kids Find Peace
Now I am grown with children of my own. And they are looking to me for how to find peace amidst the noise in their own lives.
My tweenagers and preschoolers alike enjoy a good adventure, and we have delved into nature like a lot of folks have. Finding new hiking trails, scouting out a new family campsite, and even gone out after dark to look at the stars and listen to crickets and bullfrogs on a quiet night.
These times spent together out in nature give a sense of rightness in the world. Frank Lloyd Wright said, “Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature. It will never fail you.”
And when the world around us is quiet and all we can see is endless tree line and limitless stars, that sentiment certainly feels true.
So I hope while we are all trying to get through this unprecedented time in our lives, we can take the time to regularly and intentionally spend time quieting ourselves in nature.
It is good for the body. It is good for the mind.
And it is most certainly good for the soul.