“Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul alike.”
“The glory of God is man (child, woman, mother) fully alive.”
God designed each one of us uniquely with our own personalities, gifts, and preferences. But one thing that God gave as a great treasure and gift for us all to enjoy is nature. I don’t know about you but when I think of the quote above and picture a life fully alive it is one that includes time outside exploring and taking in God’s creation. It is a life with room for leisure, time to notice, to ponder, to slow down and savor beauty. There is something about being surrounded by beauty that truly does minister, heal and bring peace to the soul. Perhaps it is that beauty is God’s grace made visible and tangible. When I am in nature the swaying leaves whisper of His presence all around me. The vibrant, colorful flowers sing of His goodness… true beauty shifts our gaze off of ourselves and onto Him—it is a powerful force.
Yet it takes great intentionality in our fast-paced and self-advancement focused culture to value and prioritize things like beauty and nature. Who has time to get out in nature and just linger there? With so many “good” opportunities competing for our—and our children’s time, any space for such leisurely pursuits is quickly crowded out. And our cultural views of beauty are very twisted— shallow and self-focused, immature. In his book Falling Upward, Richard Rohr talks about how it is mature cultures— ones that view life with a sense of “deep time” (thinking not just about the self and here and now, but of time more fully including past, present, and future) who have had the wisdom to value and invest in beauty throughout history. Such cultures or people are concerned with the well being of future generations and have the insight and understanding of what is needed to shape and nurture great souls.
As I gear up for a new school year I want to leave lots of room not to simply inform my kids with facts they need to know, but to cultivate practices that will form their souls. I want to create space that speaks to their spiritual and emotional aspects as well as their intellectual beings. Have you ever noticed it takes TIME to think? To meditate on truth about God and spiritual things we need time and space. It doesn’t happen in a life packed to the brim rushing from one thing to the next. And growth and fruit is not immediate but comes in season after seeds have been given that time and space to grow.
This coming school year, it is my hope and plan to get out in nature and to leave lots of space to let beauty soak into our beings and to ponder the many truths we will learn about. One simple way I will encourage this is through nature journaling. I will not require specific journaling assignments but am giving my kids a list of prompts to inspire them in their reflection and journaling. These prompt cards can be printed, cut out and glued to the inside of a journal. For any of you interested, I’m sharing them below. Click on the images to get the PDFs. The only difference in the two is the design— I thought the boys out there might prefer a geometric design over flowers.