Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Getting Away From It All

by Donna L. Watkins

© Donna L. Watkins - Photo: Eastern Gray Squirrel
I didn't know a squirrel could swim until I saw one swimming across our little pond and jumping out. They hang on the side to get a drink and I imagine he lost his grip and went in.

There was a big Green Frog not far from him that just watched the show. I was also surprised that he didn't dive. What a show God's Creation gives us. I'm sure He created each creature with a lesson for us, which is why it's so important to take time to get away to the wilderness.

Emerson said, "In the woods we return to reason and faith."

Jesus and His disciples often retreated to the wilderness for prayer and refreshing. Jesus spent 40 days in the wilderness being tested. Did the wilderness provide Him with what was needed for His human side to survive it? No distractions. When you step into a forest it takes very little distance to be overcome with a sense of God. A knowing that there is something .... someone .... who intended good and beauty for our lives. The wilderness is a great evangelist.

How many of us remember moments at youth camps in the wild that were defining moments in who we are and who we wanted to be. What a life-changing time wilderness can provide. It takes the expanse of God's Creation to show us the inner depths of our soul.

Moses fled Egypt into the wilderness and God used it to mature and prepare him for his life's mission. He was called out of it to speak to the King to let his people go, and then led the nation of Israel through it. Even in the wilderness some people never let go of the city. Israel complained and compared, making themselves miserable because they weren't willing to trust God.

I'll admit after the life they lived in Egypt with all those years as slaves, I would have a hard time thinking that God had the best in mind for me in the middle of the desert. Our life's circumstances rival our spiritual ability to trust God, but within us, in the fiber of our own creation, are the threads of faith and knowing that God can be trusted. Those threads are what we have to hold on to when times get tough and the devil's voice gets louder and our minds continue to play reel after reel of times when God didn't seem to come through for us.

The problem with those films is that they don't have the whole script. We don't see the big picture. The plan and purpose of God is not to settle us down into a cozy and cushioned corner of life to be forever blissful. This life is a training ground for eternity. We need to update those films with the Truth.

There is wisdom in saving our wild lands. Henry David Thoreau said, “A town is saved, not more by the righteous men in it than by the woods and swamps that surround it.” There is such truth in that since we now know much too vividly by Hurricane Katrina that developing wetlands is not a wise thing. They are provided for protection, just as the woods are provided for the protection of our health. Thoreau also said, “In wildness is the preservation of the world.”

John Muir stated, “Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountain is going home; that wildness is necessity; that mountain parks and reservations are useful not only as fountains of timber and irrigating rivers, but as fountains of life.”

My backyard is a fountain of life with a view of the woods that has not yet been erased by the development that is going on only 50' to the right of it. As I write, there's a papa Cardinal at the feeder with a little one up in the trees begging for food. The fledglings sound like squeaky wheels until they get their adult voices. They remind me of teenagers that want their independence to fly (go) where they want, but still want mom and pop to feed and coddle them.

Growing up is a slow process if circumstances don't speed it along and it seems with each generation it takes longer. I know a number of folks my age (50's) that still haven't grown up, and I find in myself areas that are much more immature than I'd like them to be.

Does wilderness provide a maturing process? Some cultures send their youth off to a wilderness experience at a certain age. Wilderness camps provide reality of life experiences and stimulate independence and creative thinking. I wonder how much more our children would get from college if they had a season of time in the wilderness to prepare for it. Would they enter as adults with a mind to learn and achieve, rather than as children with a focus on freedom and foolishness?

Indeed, there is much research now being done on the health effects or defects from lack of time in nature and the outdoors. "Nature-play" is also emerging as a promising therapy for attention-deficit disorder (ADD) and other childhood problems. Louv suggests that the very presence of these disorders is evidence that the generations of alienation from nature may have already resulted in considerable harm to our children. Read more about this.

This isn't only a childhood problem. Panic disorder or anxiety attacks are alleviated with what you might call nature therapy. Read more about this.

Such things come to mind as I sit here watching the amazing interaction of species in our little corner of the world that we call Bluebird Cove. There is much to be learned. May God increase my capacity for understanding and being able to be still.

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All photos remain the property of Donna L. Watkins and may not be republished without written permission. You may forward or use this copyrighted article on a website if you include the following credit and an active link back to this site:
© 2000-2007 Donna L. Watkins - This article was reprinted with permission. Visit the author's website, TheNatureInUs.com for more articles and free email subscription. Link URL: http://www.TheNatureInUs.com

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