“A challenge I constantly face is making time for myself to get outside and reconnect with nature. I think this is true for a lot of people in today’s very busy world. We all have so many things going on, so many things we have to do, so much to keep up with.” Although I did not write these words, I could have. They make up the opening paragraph of Rob Sheppards’s most recent entry at his website, www.natureandphotography.com. In his blog he goes on to talk about how important it is that we all make an effort to find “nature time.”
I, like Rob, struggle with finding the time outdoors I’d like to have. My job keeps me plenty busy. Even though I read a lot about nature and even write a blog about it twice a week, there are periods when I go quite some time without any significant “nature time.” Reading Rob’s blog actually convicted me and made me more determined to do better. I even acted upon it. Thursday and Friday I was in Paducah, Kentucky, visiting my mother. I noticed that she had a large growth of mums in front of her place and that her rosebush was also still blooming. I went inside and grabbed my camera and a macro lens. Over two days I spent quite a bit of time up close and personal with my mother’s flowers. (You can view some of the images I took here.) I also noticed a pond across from her place that had quite a few cattails. I also photographed these, along with some sycamore leaves that were lying on the ground. Taking the time to enjoy God’s Creation truly proved therapeutic and heightened my sense of gratitude.
Practicing nature time isn’t usually listed as a spiritual discipline but I’m beginning to think it should be. Reading the Bible is considered a spiritual discipline so why shouldn’t reading God’s “Other Book” also be? I read the Bible every day. I’ve been doing that since I was quite young. I enjoy reading the Scriptures and benefit from it greatly. I feel, however, that I must also become just as disciplined in finding time to read the Book of Creation. If God speaks to us through His Creation, and I believe that He does, then it is both sinful and foolish of me not to make a concerted effort to read and study from this volume on a regular basis.
When I was a kid the church my family attended provided envelopes for us to put our offerings in. These envelopes, however, also served another purpose. Each one contained several boxes to check. We could check if we had read the Bible daily, if we were staying for worship, if we had invited someone else to church, if we were making a contribution that day, etc. I learned through this practice that these things were an important part of our faith. I don’t know if churches still use this type of envelope but if they do, I’d like to suggest that they add a new category. I would argue that “nature time” should also be included. I’ve never seen anything of the sort on a church envelope but at this point in my life, I can only wonder, Why?