Spring is upon us, so venture outside! Recent reports claim that contact with nature makes us healthier and happier. In Greek mythology, Antaeus was invincible as long as he was in contact with his mother, Earth. Apparently we too gain strength by being in touch with Mother Earth, whose clay we were made from. Spring is a good time to be refreshed and renewed by taking a walk though the woods, in a park, along a beach, or in your own backyard. When I walk outside in the country— gazing on violets, mushrooms, and honeybees and filling my lungs with fresh air— I feel at peace. I’m sure my blood pressure sinks.
One evening when I was on such a walk in a field, a flock of birds—maybe purple martin or barn swallows—surrounded me. Dozens of them swooped and darted back and forth, sometimes coming within a foot of me. Now, this wasn’t like in the horror movie The Birds. Instead it was exhilarating.
Just looking at nature through a window is calming. The other day, I was worried about something. In the evening as I pulled down a shade, four lovely deer were grazing on the lawn next door. That peaceful scene was soothing. It reminded me that God is in charge and there are bigger things than my petty concerns.
Mother Earth also has power to lead us to our Father, God. In Romans 1:20 we read that God is understood and seen through the things he has made. Once when I was directing a retreat, I faced a wall of windows that opened up onto the ocean. It was awesome, but then at night when I looked out, all was black. I commented that the ocean at night is a metaphor for God. Although the ocean was invisible, I knew it was there, immense, powerful, and magnificent.
The shepherd-king David spent many hours outdoors. We attribute to him the creation psalms: Psalms 8, 19, 29, 65, 104, and 139. You might make time to pray these someday soon. St. Francis of Assisi, who spent much of his life walking the roads of Italy, composed that glorious “Canticle of the Sun,” praising God for all of creation. (Read it in the video here, accompanied by gorgeous photos.) The poet Gerard Manley Hopkins began a poem, “The world is charged with the grandeur of God.” You are probably familiar with Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s words: “Earth’s crammed with heaven, and every common bush afire with God; but only he who sees, takes off his shoes, the rest sit round it and pluck blackberries.”
Unfortunately, we human beings are slowly committing matricide. Rivers and lakes, forests, air, and animals are being destroyed. Articles in National Geographic attest to this. So do scientists. Global warming is not a theory but a fact.
Do you know what happened to Antaeus when his was separated from Earth? Hercules lifted him into the air and therefore was able to crush him to death!
Where is your peaceful place where by communing with nature you become aware of its Creator and are invigorated?