My poetry buddy sent me the poem “Weathering” by Fleur Adcock, which speaks of the power of a naturally beautiful place to make one look and feel happy. (You can read the poem here.)
As my buddy and I traded emails about the poem, she asked me where I feel most beautiful.
I wrote back: I think I’d have to say pretty much anytime I get to hike in the mountains, which is funny because of course, I’m sweaty, my hair’s in a ponytail, and I’m definitely not all dressed up. But I’m breathing. I’m using my lungs and legs and eyes and even just thinking about it, a smile has sunk onto my face. And I know I actually do feel beautiful then, because I tend to hand my husband the camera more on hikes than at other times.
I suppose this is why I tend to chart my road trips to wide-open, mountainous spaces rather than to big cities with their noise and flashing lights. My social media feeds tell me I’m in good company: most of the pictures posted that aren’t of people seem to be of nature.
This interest in creation is nothing new. Take this example of how King Solomon used his surpassing, God-given wisdom:
He composed 3,000 proverbs and 1,005 songs. He produced manuals on botany, describing every kind of plant, from the cedars of Lebanon to the hyssop that grows on walls. He also produced manuals on biology, describing animals, birds, insects, and fish. People from all nations came to hear Solomon’s display of wisdom; they came from all the kings of the earth who heard about his wisdom. (1 Kings 4:32-34, NET)
My writer’s heart loves that he was a creative—writing and composing—but the larger emphasis here is on nature. I’d expect a man in charge of a prosperous kingdom to focus more on construction techniques, defense strategies, and infrastructure.
But there’s a reason that the wisest man of all time was so captivated by nature. There’s a reason we’re still drawn to it, awed by it, and at peace in it thousands of years later.
Nature works by a different kind of wisdom than our technology-driven world. Unlike all the human inventions we encase ourselves in, nature was crafted directly by the word of God without human involvement. And as a creation, it reveals its Creator to those of us with hearts open to listen.
Maybe the reason I feel most beautiful in nature is the overwhelming proof of our thoughtful and loving Creator. The same God who crafted this stunning universe crafted me. Crafted you. The One who spoke into existence each little detail and each grand vista breathed life into each of us.
But nature doesn’t just tell us about who we are. Budding leaves, fast and slow growth, seasons, sunrises and sunsets, water and sand are all tangible whispers of truth about the intangible God.
“The rain and snow fall from the sky
and do not return,
but instead water the earth
and make it produce and yield crops,
and provide seed for the planter and food for those who must eat.
In the same way, the promise that I make
does not return to me, having accomplished nothing.
No, it is realized as I desire
and is fulfilled as I intend.”
Indeed you will go out with joy;
you will be led along in peace;
the mountains and hills will give a joyful shout before you,
and all the trees in the field will clap their hands.
Evergreens will grow in place of thorn bushes,
firs will grow in place of nettles;
they will be a monument to the Lord,
a permanent reminder that will remain.
Isaiah 55:10-13, NET
This is why time outside completes us. Nature gives us context in which to better understand ourselves and God, our Creator. It serves as a monument to him, a reminder of who He is and his promises.
With our every breath of fresh air, each time our gazes rest on mountain tops and we smile for the cameras we willingly passed off, let’s remember. Let’s listen to the clapping trees and raise our voices with the mountains and hills in praise of our Lord.