We need to find God, and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. See how nature – trees, flowers, grass- grows in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence… We need silence to be able to touch souls. -Mother Theresa (Picture credit)
I am a life-long worrier. I have been busy worrying since I was a little kid. Sometimes, I worry about important things. Am I headed down the right career path? Am I saving enough money? Is our government protecting the less-fortunate, the environment, and our civil rights?
But more often than not, I am worrying about really stupid, unimportant stuff. Did I lock the back door? Why is my bike making that creaking noise? Am I going to make it to work on time? I drive myself crazy, and I am pretty sure I make the people around me crazy also.
The last couple of weekends I have gotten to escape to the wild. Well not exactly the wild, but I’ve gotten to escape to nature. And the same thing happened that always happens when I get outside: I quit worrying. My mind goes quiet and my body literally fills with joy. My soul is filled with wonder and amazement, love and happiness, peace and spirit. I’m not the person who goes to work, exercises each night, makes phone calls, runs errand, tries to stay connected to family and friends. I just am. And I am well.
Being in nature is our primal condition. Animals, trees, water, mountains, deserts: these are all a part of who we are as humans. And yet so much of our modern life is spent separated from it all. An article in the Oxford University Press suggests the same:
Humans have spent many thousands of years adapting to natural environments, yet have only inhabited urban ones for relatively few generations. Whilst modern ‘westernization’ has doubled our life expectancy, it has also created disparities between ancient and present ways of living that may have paved the way for the emergence of new serious diseases. ‘As more people survive to older age, and as patterns of living, consuming and environmental exposures change, so non-communicable diseases such as coronary heart disease, diabetes and cancer have come to dominate.’ Further, mental, behavioural and social health problems are seen to be an increasing health burden in all parts of the world.
According to the World Bank and the World Health Organization, mental health disorders currently constitute 10% of the global burden of disease. In Australia, depression costs the economy AUD$3.3 billion in lost productivity each year. Estimates suggest by the year 2020 mental health disorders will rise to 15% of the global burden of disease and depression alone will constitute one of the largest health problems worldwide…The evidence invites us to ‘look outside’ for solutions to this global contemporary health epidemic.
Clearly, our health, mental and physical, is effected by our environment. I would also argue that our spiritual health is affected. For me at least God is nature, they are one in the same. Which makes sense. Our connection to nature is primal; our connection to God is primal. A sense of our true self can only be found outside the city limits.
For me at least.