by Ruth Griffiths
Nature has the power to heal us, connect us and build community. Nature is awesome.
Nature is a prescription for good health. Studies have shown that as little as 20 minutes in a green space can help children with attention deficit disorder cope better with the challenges of everyday living. A walk in the park can soothe your mind, lower your stress levels and aid digestion.
Our bodies were made for movement. It feels good to get outdoors in the fresh air and feel the sun and the wind on the skin. Getting away from artificial lights, noise and technology creates an oasis of peace in a crowded day.
After my husband retired, he occasionally picked me up from work at noon and we took a picnic lunch to Little Red River Park. After eating our sandwiches, we took a short walk to admire the new growth that was always in abundance. That 45-minute picnic in the middle of the day was a relaxing as a vacation.
The beauty and grandeur of nature inspire awe. Awe is defined as “a feeling of reverential respect mixed with fear or wonder.” Standing before a waterfall, you can’t help but feel inspired by the power of the falling water. The waterfall is awesome in its extreme beauty and potential for harm.
Nature can also be awesome when it connects us with others. Looking out from the top of the ski hill at Big River, I felt small in comparison to the vastness of the valley spread out before me. But I felt connected to the people who were standing with me to view that wonderful panorama.
Some of my most memorable days have been spent in outdoor activities with others: picking berries, searching for wildflowers, identifying birds. Picking berries helps me feel connected to the thousands of generations of women who have foraged for their families. Looking for wildflowers and birds is an intellectual pursuit that never fails to enrich me.
When my grandmother was 95 she still had her bird books spread out in front of her living room window, ready to identify the feathered friends who flew into her farm yard. Learning about our natural world is a hobby I hope to pursue as long as I live.
I believe that if we want our lives to be awesome, we need only to acknowledge our place in nature. As a community, we are interconnected in our awesome world.