What If: Nature is the Only Way I Experience God?

This question was posed to me in mid-March and I wondered how I would tackle it. Here we are, two months later and I finally have something to say about this topic. But the answer did not come out of study or even an intentional spiritual journey into deeper truth. The response has come through further breaking of my framework of connection. It has come with unknowing and letting old ways die. It has come through survival.

Prior to quarantine, I rarely went into my backyard. We built a gorgeous pool 8 summers ago and my unwillingness to put on a swimsuit meant that I touched the water maybe 3 times a year. There are only a few places where the “outdoors” and I are zen. I feel soul connected watching waves. I feel at peace in clear water with a snorkel on my face. I know a tender comfort while looking at the red rocks of Arizona. But running, hiking, biking, surfing, swimming (need I say more?) are not the ways that I experience the Divine.

Something happened when my only “escape” was the backyard – when the world told me that other places were not safe. When Target was no longer an outdoor adventure, I had to breathe fresh air in other ways. In an act of pure desperation, I went outside. I began each morning with a long walk. I explored paths in the neighborhood that I had never seen. I found a pond with turtles that I had never noticed. I began to love my coffee on the porch. I grew a garden – a BIG wonderful fruit producing garden. I found great joy in digging in the dirt. I now know all of the worms and bugs and even the crawly critters that my backyard has to offer. And when I “mastered” my fenced in space, I jumped the 8′ boundary and began trying to root the wild plants from the field next to our house.

Over the course of the last month, I fell in love with Galveston. I know…the brown water. But again, these things matter little when all you have seen for weeks is a master planned community. To sit on the seawall and feel the salty breeze has restored my deepest dying places. I have a new love, and her name is the outdoors. I’m still not ready to “rough it.” I long for the day that my time outside can be followed by a 4-star hotel with high thread count sheets and a spa. I’m not that changed. But, I get this question in a way that I never thought I could.

Now, for my great insight to the “what if?”…I know you are holding your breath. If you can experience the Comforter in ANY WAY, you are fortunate. If sitting in the sun gives you a glimpse into the mystery of soul connection, what a gift. If climbing a cliff or diving deep in the water allows your heart to see the infinite connection to Creator, hold that feeling as tight as you can and climb and dive as high and as deep as you can. Everyday.

The more that I explore new avenues of connection and allow myself to be freed from pre-programmed “right” thinking, the more that I drop the need to do it one way. I have a friend that finds more peace and stillness in Nature Church than in a building on Sunday mornings. Can we just stop for a moment and bless that worship as true and good? Rather than piling on the should’s and ought to’s, can we free each other to connect with the Holy in our own ways? I’m over it, in the best possible ways. And with that in mind, I’m going to the beach today. I need some good worship time.

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