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How can you connect with nature in ways that bring life?

Phase 5: My Relationship with Creation
Workbook Exercise: My Creation Collage

Watch: How can you connect with nature in ways that bring life?
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Transcript of Video:

I think one way I try to keep myself open to the flow of the blessings of the natural world is to be in it as much as possible. I have a kind of peculiar habit of enjoying a cup of tea most mornings, late morning and often in the afternoon as well, and if it’s at all possible I like to be outdoors to do that. If I’m at the monastery I love to sit out in our beautiful cloister garden among the trees and bushes and be under the dome of the sky. I think being outside, out of the sort of boxed in spaces and under the dome of the sky gives me a sense of connection with the infinite. And certainly being surrounded by the living things growing up out of the earth in all seasons and the sound of birds in the background, I think these things confirm in me, that strengthen in me, a sense of biological connectedness with all of nature.

– Br. Mark Brown

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23 Comments

  1. Stan Lewis on March 13, 2017 at 13:24

    I try to get outside as much as possible–whether it be sitting on the porch watching the birds, walking my dog, hiking, or fishing. In almost every one of those situations, I am armed with my camera. I love to take photographs of the outdoors. When I carry my camera, I am more apt to slow down and be on the look out for God’s love and power in the natural world. I try to see things through his eyes.

  2. Jaan Sass on November 20, 2016 at 00:14

    For me being in nature would be a change. I do have a dream of making a prayer garden. I have to admit my fear of snakes and insects. I need to go outside more than I currently do.

  3. Linda on June 14, 2016 at 09:01

    Well, I have trouble connecting to nature in some ways. We have crop duster planes, floods that produce apocalyptic condition amounts of mosquitoes, then mold from the floods, alligators. But I have 7 ft. High Windows and watching the red tail Hawks and various owls search for mice or baby squirrels or ferral kittens is interesting. I never see a kill, just animals go missing. We have wolves, coyote, foxes, possums, raccoons, bear, armadillos, skunks. For beauty I have a giant rose box. The circle of life seems harsh, but is Gods plan. I don’t always want to accept it an don’t always understand it, but i am not required to. I try to make peace with it during life’s fragile times. Baby animals always bring a smile.
    In my dreams I am 30 and young again and imagine I am my beautiful young self in heaven some day on my way to a heavenly banquet in Royal clothes. Once I asked a friend why God made aging painful and ugly. I heard the best answer I ever heard. She said we would never want to leave. So i watch from my window the reminders that life goes on and I let go of control. Because in life there is no control. At times the beauty brings respite from harshness. Sorry I seem morbid today. Having some harshness in my life today. It’s pouring rain and I usually don’t like rain. But I imagine it washing away the negative and cleaning the air and washing dust off the green plants and my spirit and it is beautiful to watch from my 7 ft window. Peaceful and calming, and it’s these bits of peace that give me life.

  4. susan zimmerman on March 14, 2016 at 20:22

    …surprise encounters with absolutes that i have studied and than actually encounter…most recent was listening to jazz musician Gregory Porters music about water…it was from God!…listen to it

    …water feeds, destroys, he goes on and on with this beautiful song, where he encoutered GOD …it is a surprise!!!!

  5. Debbie on March 13, 2016 at 17:54

    I have a garden. I have flowers that bloom through the summer. I planted bulbs in the fall so that I will have flowers in the spring.

  6. gwedhen nicholas on March 12, 2016 at 09:56

    I have a dog and three cats, with whom I share my life. Being connected to them is being connected with nature, and they certainly bring life. They bring such joy and comfort and life. Having a reciprocal relationship with them is akin to my relationship with God. They bring me to God whenever I stroke them or feed them or cuddle with them.I know they are not strictly nature, but they are part of the natural world that God made.

  7. Stan on March 11, 2016 at 21:50

    Well, a city monk just touched on my own feelings. My wife and I are both avid outdoors people … we are outside as much as we can be. Our vacations are generally tent camping, backpacking, or multi-state motorcycle touring trips, rather than visiting resorts or cruises. Actually, some of the lean-tos where we’ve camped while backpacking thru the Adirondacks offer much more beauty and better relaxation than any resort you’ll find in town.

    But the question was … how can these connections bring life? Well, just the inner peace and spiritual awakening you get can certainly SAVE your life. But … as I was considering the question, I was struck by the realization that what it’s really all about is the understanding that we are all a part of God’s Creation, and we are integrally woven within it. It’s about love and stewardship for the world around us. Not about us trying to conquer and control it to suit our own selfish goals and convenience. And once that realization begins to take root within you, it can truly begin to grow your spiritual life.

  8. Eugene Wright on March 11, 2016 at 16:32

    How can I connect with nature in ways that bring life? Let me count the ways. First, I respect all living things. When I lived at a house with a large yard, I planted a garden of vegetables and flowers. I did not use any pesticides and preparing the soil was all done manually with a rake and a hoe. Most evenings when I am home I would seat out back and watch the birds and listen to them chirp. I enjoyed watching butterflies and creepy crawlies and admire how all of them individually and collectively enhance the beauty of the yard and all of God’s creation. These days I don’t have a yard anymore but I still “stop to smell the roses” as I walk around my new neighborhood. Even in winter when snow is on the ground, I still enjoy the brave birds and the trees and bushes. Now with the weather breaking I look at the crocuses and daffodils and all those early plants and remark like the Lord that they are good.

  9. a city monk on March 11, 2016 at 10:46

    Two in one…
    Urban nature is nature that under a constant effort to be controlled. Regulations cover everything from grass height, to amount of water used, everything that moves is deemed a “pest” in need of controlling. A bug, faces a death warrant for bug-ness. Sunflowers need an ID tag so that code enforcement doesn’t declare it a weed before it gets to bloom bird food. The whole eco system is under constant siege…beware bees, zero-scape plants are environmentally friendlier than most neighbors. And woe to a branch that bends too low for the dinosaur sized pick up truck that has eminent domain for a three mile radius around its mooring station…are those bullet holes decals or for real??
    The problem… is the pressure for me to conform to that urban relationship of control, control, control…
    windows closed -for security sake. Shades drawn to save on heating and cooling and the fierce greenhouse heat of summer… weekly taming of the yard, edging so the neighbors can site a straight line from one end of the block to the other. And then there is the war on poop. Bird poop, dog poop, even compost bins must be discrete in design and placement. All this weighed against the workshops at the library on raising bees, composting, native plants, reclaiming water, and soaker hoses are our friends they help us in many ways.
    There were the sidewalk campaigns to build a walkable community. And the mom who told me she would rather her kid died of diabetes than face the dangers of walking to school every day or playing outside in — nature.
    So this morning, cup of coffee and the couch, remote control in hand… I surfed to a PBS something that was a visual feast of a bay on the coast of Japan. My face softened, my shoulders relaxed, after a while I realized I was smiling at the TV, at the tiny little sweeties trying to birth another generation of sea slugs… oh dear.
    All that ‘nature’ just being! wildly outta control resting in the hand of God…who sees that it is good, it is very good.

  10. Rhode on March 11, 2016 at 10:18

    Feeding the birds in my backyard when the winter becomes harsh, watching their appreciation in their movements and song, running my 12 yr old dog on the beach as he turns into a lunatic puppy, sitting with my face to the sun and trying to hear plants growing, looking up on still, moonless cold nights and being grateful there are stars.

  11. K.D. on March 11, 2016 at 09:52

    I think still allowing a deep dependence on nature brings life. It’s an act of humility and trust, knowing we weren’t meant to be independent and autonomous. I enjoy growing/gathering/hunting much of my food, cutting firewood, taking care of the animals…There’s a beauty to letting nature’s seasons, patterns of light or dark, warmth or cold, to help dictate my days.

  12. lizCongdon on March 11, 2016 at 09:49

    Right now the sun is flooding my study. I can feel its warmth. I take in deep breaths as I walk outdoors. The ocean is another favorite place.

  13. Russell on March 11, 2016 at 09:44

    I could strengthen my connection with nature by being in nature more often and more intentionally present with nature while I am there. Our home has a wonderful landscape full of plants we have nurtured from seedling, bulb and root cuttings. Tending this, adding nutrition and protection, pruning and weeding, all these activities, so elemental to our stewardship of the garden allow me to be immersed in the now of nature. These activities enhance growth and beauty. And, while they are voluntary and prescriptive, they also are a prayer for the presence of the Holy among these living things. Walking, as well as working, in the natural world would increase my connection and appreciation of God’s bounteous beauty and creativity. This might infuse my own actions with reverence for life and allow me to seek additional life-giving paths. It would also assist in other parts of my spiritual journey, so I can feel it becoming a central theme in my rule. Now, if I can just prune away my ego connected to my vocation, perhaps I will be able to nourish the walking I so strongly sense I need.

  14. Bill Spies on March 11, 2016 at 08:02

    I like to be outside with my three dogs, watching them play, explore the natural world. Living in the woods of rural Alabama gets me close to God thru nature every day.

  15. Bettie on March 11, 2016 at 07:34

    I can’t think of a time when I didn’t glory in the wonder and beauty of nature. As a child, lying in the grass playing with the clouds; sleeping in the open, counting stars as they came out: enjoying the tree branches all times of the year; and gardening, with all the pleasure and wonder that has brought since childhood and my first zinnia seeds.
    In this new stage of my life, I glory in the beauty of the mountains out my windows, the garden off my porch, the birds at the feeders, the trees in my neighborhood. ‘Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness’ to me means the natural world.

  16. Karen on March 11, 2016 at 07:22

    I’ve tried many times to meditate, and the silence, the walls, the stillness all make me uncomfortable. I can’t focus. I can’t be calm. Yet when I step into nature, with the sounds of the trees, the birds, the creatures in the leaves, I feel so close to God. I can finally pray. Sometimes I pray in the morning while still in bed, but I’m on the 3rd floor looking out at the trees and feel a bit in nature. Realizing that nature brings me calm has been life changing for me. Sometimes I wonder if the butterfly that just flew past was God saying hello…

  17. Suzanne on March 11, 2016 at 07:18

    It has been easy to connect with nature while hiking, camping, lake swimming, stone hopping a river – the list could go on! Being older now I’ve continued the connection but from the different views of my porch and flower beds. My soul is renewed in a sense when my hands are in dirt. There may be something scientific in that, but for me, it is an opportunity to touch and connect with God.

  18. Neil Ellis Orts on March 11, 2016 at 07:18

    In a way, this series of questions has helped reconnect me a little bit. Living in a city after having grown up on a farm makes the separation that urban life brings a little sharper sometimes, and I’ve described in previous replies how I love what green spaces one finds here in Houston, but it’s still a disconnect. Every once in a while, however, I experience a sort of culture shock when I hear someone who grew up in the modern urban setting reveal just how little they know of the natural world.

    Just last night, I was looking at the website of the local arboretum. I hadn’t connected my surfing over there to this series of questions, but maybe it was. Perhaps a field trip is soon in order.

    • Dorothy P. on March 11, 2016 at 17:02

      I haven’t lived in Houston since 2007, but have found memories of the Arboretum. Go for it! 🙂
      Trying not to focus on the fact I have to “enjoy” my cups of tea in my office more often than not — instead I am looking out of my 10th floor window and seeing active thunderstorms in two places. Impressive. I do feel a bit more alive after that short bit of contemplation.

  19. Kristi on March 11, 2016 at 06:37

    My love of The outdoors and being in nature something that I have treasured as long as I can remember. long walks whenever possible, sitting outside to read, gardening when the weather changes, hiking, running and kayaking all bring me closer to nature . When I’m in that place I just feel connected on a much greater and deeper level to the essence of gods creation. Even in the bitter cold and snow there’s always beauty that’s present that needs to be admired and appreciated. I feel humbled by it and it always gives me a sense of love and peace.

  20. Jim V on March 11, 2016 at 06:34

    One way is through my food and choices. A few years ago I had a serious awakening on where our food comes from and the quality of it and how people and animals are treated along the way in the process. Through better choices and connecting directly with the sources we can make our nurishment more human and life giving.
    Being outside and working outside are also ways to connect.

    • Stan on March 11, 2016 at 21:27

      It’s too bad more folks don’t understand, and respect, what we are actually eating, and how it affects our general well being. We are not simple generic humans, we are amazing, beautiful, individual works of art, which must be cared for. What we eat is our sustenance, and it is probably the most important aspect of our physical health.

  21. Jane on March 11, 2016 at 05:46

    I have loved all of the questions posed so far and am particularly drawn to this one because of the part of the question “in ways that bring life?” This takes the question for me beyond just being with nature and makes me wonder how and what I can create from the creation of nature – taking it a next step. I will ponder on this, and my first thoughts are that nature’s creation can remind us that we are creatures of nature, and that we have periods of growth as well as times when our creative limbs are bare so to speak. Just being invited to reply in this way to the various questions is an invitation to create – to take our thoughts beyond where we might ordinarily go. Thanks be to God for your good work for this Lenten series!

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