Nature’s Sanctuary

Two days ago, I posted the following image on Instagram with the caption, “Dreaming of warmer days, greener days. Days when the sky is always blue. Days when I can spend all day aligning myself with nature, taking pictures, smelling fresh air, and recharging my soul.” I wanted to elaborate on it some more.

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Living in the Midwest, winter isn’t always winter. For example, we are currently under a winter storm warning which includes half a foot of snow, almost an inch of sleet, and of course, ice. But we started the beginning of this week in the sixties. It is not uncommon for it to be seventy degrees one day and snowing the next. Our only consistent season is summer, when it’s always the upper nineties and humidity drives us wild. The people of the Midwest are crazy because our weather is crazy. That’s all there is to it.

I wouldn’t say I have the winter blues. This is actually the first year in many I don’t have seasonal depression. I’ve been working on myself quite a bit the past several months, and I’m seeing positive changes. Maybe I’ll have a post on that later. I digress.

When we get those fifty to seventy degree days in the middle of what’s supposed to be winter, my heart longs for perpetual spring. Longs for spending time on wooded trails and venturing off the beaten path. In 2018, I was outside. A lot. Almost every beautiful weekend, I demanded to go to parks. Even during the dog days of summer, much to my cold-loving husband’s chagrin.

I love nature. I always have.

And I don’t just love it for the photography aspects. I absolutely adore standing in between hundreds of trees and just…standing. Listening to the woodland creatures. Breathing in the smells. Surrounded by green. I am an empathic introvert, and one of the things I’ve learned about empaths is we have a special connection with nature. It brings us peace, harmony, healing for our souls.

The forests happen to be my nature sanctuary. As much as a part of my heart belongs to the ocean, the forests are where I thrive, where I feel the most alive. Perhaps, it’s because I was raised in the country. Or, perhaps, when God made my character sheet, he designed me to be a ranger and picked forests as my preferred terrain. (A little Dungeons and Dragons joke for anyone who plays.)

For me, my connection with nature isn’t mystic, it’s Divine. I was raised conservative Southern Baptist, and I’m not ashamed of that. While I currently attend a non-denominational church, I still believe the Bible and its teachings are true and infallible. If you believe otherwise, it is not my place on this blog to debate with you. Even the Bible says we are all given free will, and everyone will decide for themselves what they will and will not believe.

But I digress. Again. For my own, personal thought process, there is a beauty I cannot describe within the trees and foliage of the woods. A supernatural type of energy that electrifies my senses. When I’m surrounded by nature, I feel like I’m surrounded by God, Himself, in an intimate way. And it’s breath-taking.

I know the Garden of Eden was perfect until sin entered the world. However, to me, the ever-changing sky, the glorious mountains, the raging sea, the secret-laden forests–they’re still perfect. I know we encounter natural disasters that take life and homes. I know nature can seem like vengeful spirits, but it has its peaceful times. And it’s beautiful.

Perfect.

I’ve struggled with depression and questioning why we’re here, trying to find the meaning of life, asking why bad things happen if God is perfect. I’ve struggled with the same questions as anyone else. There’s been countless nights where I’ve cried myself to sleep, begging God to take me in my sleep because my existence was a mistake.

But a perfect God doesn’t make mistakes.

When I wonder why I’ve been given life and placed on this Earth, when all I want to do is doubt everything, I take myself back to the middle of the forest. Standing under towering trees full of green life. Listening to that babbling brook you can bet your bottom dollar I’ll go find and play in like a small child. Hearing the birds chatter to one another and the leaves rustling with the breeze. In a demanding society, it’s crucial for someone like me to detach, retreat into my bubble, and recharge.

Nature is my perfect bubble.

The world is full of pain and suffering, but here it all melts away. Here is where I find my peace. Here is where my God reveals Himself in a way that’s special for me. Here is His temple. He didn’t have to make the land, sky, and space wonderful. We could be living in an arid wasteland. We don’t have to be alive, but here we are.

“God saw all that He had made, and it was very good.” -Genesis 1:31

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He Liked the Fall

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I wanted to share a sign my late great aunt made for my great-grandpa’s grave. Sorting through old pictures on my phone, I came across this photo. The paraphrasing of Earnest Hemingway reads as follows:

“Best of all, he liked the fall

The leaves yellow on the cottonwoods

Leaves floating on the trout streams

And above the hills the high blue

Windless skies–And now he

Will be a part of them forever”