Updated: May 21
Last week I had the honor of beginning a year long program for pastors at Westmont College in Montecito, California. The campus is located in the beautiful hills just a couple of miles northeast of Santa Barbara.
Staying there for the week allowed me to take my free time and walk the campus and soak in all of the beauty of the natural setting in which this school resides. It also gave me pause to think about all those things that God has placed there, directly in our path, for us to enjoy, for us to admire, for us to take care of by caring for the land on which they naturally inhabit.
One of the lectures was by a biology professor who was teaching us how to reimagine creation the way God intended us to see it. How do we see the Creation story living out in our lives today? Is it just a story? How do we fit in with all of these varied and many living and breathing plants, animals, birds and insects? How do we create a mindset of appreciating all of those things that have been given to us that we take for granted as just being there.
One way is to take a walk on the wild side. Walking on the wild side, for the purposes of this discussion, is to get out into nature and be observers. It is to soak in the interaction between the ground on which we are standing with the tree under which we are sitting and the the brook that is flowing gently next to us as the sun shines delicately through the branches.
What emotions do these images and actions of walking in nature evoke for you? What are you reminded of? Is it to slow down? Is it to be more aware of your surroundings? Is it to engage more with nature? Do you see the hand of the Creator in creation? Or are you in a place that this walk is a place of shadow and darkness?
Understanding where we are spiritually in our lives can be correlated with what we see and feel as we explore the beauty and wonder of creation. It can open us up to the newness of things we have never seen or heard or touched. In so doing, it calls us to adventure beyond what is seen to who we are in relation to all of this creation. It can be transformative as it opens our hearts and minds in ways we never even knew were possible as we step onto new and unexplored paths and soak in what our senses have been closed to previously. It gives us peace and calm as we entrench ourselves in the quiet stillness of just being with God.
See how you react to this for yourselves by taking a walk on the wild side today and then use these reflective poems to journal your discoveries!
Take a walk on the wild side,
Feel your hearts open."
"Nature beckons us,
Meeting God in the stillness,
Eyes and hearts open."