As I’ve walked in the various locations this past week I’ve thought a lot about how close the connection was between the Anasazi and the land they inhabited. In both a literal and symbolic way they lived very close to the earth. Due to necessity they had to; their survival depended on it. Their close connection with nature appears, however, to have gone far beyond just using it to survive. They saw a spiritual element in nature as well. This is reflected in the petroglyphs and pictographs they left behind, as well as in the way they constructed many of their kivas or places of worship.
I’m afraid that in modern times most people have lost touch with nature. We live and work in buildings that do not depend on the sun for light. Our homes are climate controlled and we do not have to worry about where or how we will get our food. The Anasazi paid very close attention to the cycles of both the sun and moon. They were quite conscious of the changing seasons and how the varying temperatures would affect them. They struggled to grow their own food. The differences between their connection with nature and ours is immense.
When I was growing up both homes I lived in had woods nearby that I could play in and explore. I have a feeling that my time spent in the woods early on has made an impact on my love for God’s Creation today. My family would occasionally make camping trips when I was young and some of my earliest childhood memories include a visit to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. I believe this early exposure to nature was pivotal for me. I would even include these memories as part of my spiritual formation.
Having said all this, here is my concern. Most of the children I know today have little exposure to nature and the outdoors. Instead of being out enjoying and learning about God’s Creation they’re mostly indoors playing video games, watching t.v. and chatting on Facebook. Many kids today haven’t got a clue where their food comes from, how the tilt of the earth affects the seasons, or the names of the birds that fly by their windows. Unfortunately, in many cases it’s not much different with their parents.
We truly are losing touch with nature and we are definitely not better off for it. This loss of connection cannot help but hinder us spiritually. If God makes Himself known through His Creation, as the Bible says, then we are missing out on much when we fail to connect with the world around us. I hope and pray more people will recognize this and begin to reconnect with the natural world. Perhaps you could help someone do just that…
(The top image was taken at Chaco Culture National Historical Park. The middle image was taken at Salmon Ruins National Monument. The bottom image was taken at Bandelier National Monument.)