Touch the earth, love the earth, honor the earth, her plains, her valleys, her seas. Rest your soul in her solitary places.” – Henry Beston
It seems that the human condition – how we see ourselves in this world – has always included a nod to the greater universe. Whether our beliefs rest in an organized form of religion, or are held within a philosophy of spirituality, it is natural for us to look to a greater power.
The “greater power” that influences many of us here at Kate’s is Nature. Whether we are spinning our wheels on a trail, hoofing it over high altitude dirt, or standing in a stream casting, our surroundings bring a sense of solace and peace to our lives. We are so fortunate to have this gift at our doorstep: spirituality that is easily accessible, and can be felt by simply gazing at the horizon.
It goes without saying that we are not the first to be influenced by the miracle that surrounds us daily. Thoreau sought it at Walden, Muir lived his life among mountains and trees, Emerson’s Nature speaks directly to the soulful interaction that could be found outdoors. And certainly, if we look to the Native American tribes, their form of worship was based upon the power of the earth as it worked in concert with the universe.
In this day and age, there exists a term that describes a lack of attention to this power. It is “Nature-Deficit Disorder”. Explored in depth by author Richard Lous in his 2005 book, Last Child in the Woods, NDD can be attributed to a lack of exposure to the outdoors – and overexposure to technology. Louv has stated, “nature-deficit disorder is not meant to be a medical diagnosis but rather to serve as a description of the human costs of alienation from the natural world.”
Those costs could perhaps be seen in political terms, as climate change is continually denied. But on an individual level, as each of us operates in this world, our own sense of self is affected if we do not recognize the importance of Nature. Beyond the asphalt and within the forests, outside of the walls that confine us, the marvels of life exist without our influence.
Paying homage to this phenomenon means taking time to immerse oneself in it. Were it not for the trees, would we have homes in which to feel safe? If not for the flora that surrounds us, would we be able to breathe deeply the oxygen that it provides? While we, as humans, try to bend our surroundings to our will so that we may have the trappings of a comfortable life, which part of us is lost?
It is finding oneself that drives many to Nature. A breathtaking view, the details of a flower, a canopy of trees – they await our attention with quiet beauty and reverence. Offering a spiritual connection that cannot be found within the confines of four walls, this manner of worship is accessible to us all – if only we take the time to seek it out with humble gratitude.
“I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out till sundown,for going out, I found, was really going in.” – John Muir
Photos by Kate Schade