Why the outdoors? What is so important about all this talk of getting outside and experiencing nature?
I truly believe that Richard Louv’s proposal that children and adults need more “Vitamin N” (Vitamin Nature) is right on target. Time spent in nature benefits us in endless ways, and this need for more nature (our nature-deficiency) raises questions about why? What is it about us, about man at his core that desires a connection with nature? I’d say this need for nature speaks of the nature of man.
The human person thrives in nature. We are happy amidst the beauty of the natural world, and we are also pensive. There is significant reason we thirst for the peace of the outdoors – there is reason it fills our souls. We try to bottle up the tranquility and bring it home; we capture breathtaking pictures in nature and carefully hang them on our walls. Again, there is a reason we regard these images with an almost reverent respect. Why?
Nature evokes emotions within man that implore the deepest questions. Can you recall a moment, or perhaps many moments, when you were immersed in nature – whether you were sipping coffee on your back porch listening to the birds, or backpacking in the middle of the Cascade Mountains – when nature’s environment spoke to you with a question? Raised within your being life’s deepest, most meaningful questions? Why?
Why does nature touch man at his heart? It is not a coincidence that our experiences with the outdoors bring about significant reflections within. These moments helps us to know and define ourselves. They challenge us to reach beyond ourselves, beyond our limitations (physical, mental, spiritual). I pose that these questions suggest that man is made for greatness.
Man’s contact with nature is an encounter with an objective reality greater than himself – truth, beauty, peace. I’d call an experience with nature an encounter with God.
Yes, Richard Louv gets it right when he describes our nature-deficiency. I’d like to direct his ideas a little further, a little deeper. Man’s longing for nature, his longing for an objective reality that is greater than himself points to a deficiency that only the source can fill.
Can you recall a moment in nature that has touched you deeply, raised these foundational questions to the surface? I’d LOVE to know and discuss.
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