Deepening Change, Chapter One, Nature & Change
by Melissa Martin 11/20/2011 / Christian Living
Nature and Change
Nature changes. Unless it's part of our job, most of us hurry and scurry without giving a mere thought to the millions and billions of years in regard to celestial and planetary changes. Once in awhile, we may chat about the ozone or global warming, especially in the wake of a hurricane, flood, or tornado. Of course, we shake in our boots when catastrophic disasters like Andrew and Katrina destroy and destruct or when cataclysmic California earthquakes wreak havoc. In due course, we go about our daily lives; paying bills and raising our families. Notably, the world experienced substantial change far before the existence of human beings and pollution. Too much rain is a flood and too much sun is a desert. As an ecosystem, nature strives for balance and equilibrium. Let's take a cue from nature.
The universe changes and this includes the planets, stars, and all other cosmic bodies. Matter and molecules change. Humankind has changed outer space by way of rocket and satellite pollution. Discoveries come with a price.
Earth, our colossal home of dirt and rocks, changes. Fire burns the forest and new growth appears. Seeds are planted and harvested. We dig up our backyards for pools and gardens. Soil and sand erode and are replaced or lost to bodies of water to be recycled in a million epochs. Industry changes the landscape. On the other hand, we irresponsibly consume and pollute. We point our finger at the destroyers of the Rain Forest but conveniently forget Love Canal and toxic dumpsites in America.
Weather is a daily global occurrence of change. Sun, rain, and wind both precede and follow each other. Seasons change as the earth rotates. In Ohio, we accept the four seasons, an occasion ice storm, drought, or flood, but like the other parts of the globe, we question colossal catastrophes. We accept the inconsistency of consistent weather patterns and become desensitized to the likelihood of major volcano eruptions, mountain landslides, and historical hurricanes. We expect changes in weather and in nature. Do we expect changes in ourselves?
Humanity is as changeable as nature; however, many of us fear or ignore change. Embroiled in a history of ecological transformation, how did we become so annoyed with change in our daily lives? How did we become so separated from our organic and environmental roots?
For the masses, workaholism blots out time with nature and I'll admit to being a reformed workaholic with relapses and struggles. Several years ago, I experienced a meltdown with some physical health issues. I found meaning in exhaustion; the necessity of rest. I took a three-month timeout and slept, relaxed, watched TV. Insight into my workaholism had visited in earlier times, but insight without response and change is only insight. Work is therapeutic but so is recreation and relaxation. Albeit, I am making internal and external changes and striving for a balanced life.
Personally, I've found deepening change by spending more time in nature instead of malls. Home and Garden TV has revolutionized the backyard with water fountains, aromatic plants, and natural beauty. Solitude and nature can coexist on your patio as you meditate, read, enjoy greenery and trickling water. Bird watching has become a popular activity along with creating butterfly gardens and sweet havens for hummingbirds. City life doesn't have to negate trips to nature. Spending time outside affects the inside.
Nature is an awesome playground and many take advantage and experience fun, laughter, and the making of memories. Hiking, bicycling, swimming, boating, picnicking, and outdoor activities stimulate and refresh the mind, body, and spirit. However, I invite you to take a closer look and investigate spirituality and how we are connected to our planet home. Our bodies are eighty percent water and fluids and we are composed of mineral elements. We breathe oxygen from trees and plants and the atmosphere. We depend on nature for human functioning. Without water humans soon perish. We need the natural environment to sustain life. Therefore, we need to learn to interact in healthy ways with our environment. The next time you turn on the water facetsay thank you to the clean essential liquid.
Lynn Ann Womack sings, "I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean." The awesome splendor of nature leaves me speechless and puts a mystical perspective on priorities. Countless times I've vacationed at the beach and each oceanic experience is connected to playfulness and a spiritual reawakening. A few days with sun and sand reduces stress and promotes a sense of tranquility. Humbleness arrives.
Humans interact with the environment by way of sensory modalities (sight, hearing, touch, taste, and smell) and reconnecting our senses via natural experiences heightens our awareness, elevates our humility, enhances curiosity, and deflates egos. Role-modeling nature's reaction to change may enhance resiliency and adaptation to what we cannot change and flexibility for what we can change.
I invite you to turn off your computer and go outside. Breathe in the air several times and exhale slowly. Stay in the moment and relax. Enjoy the here-and-now. Put worries and concerns on the back burner for a while. You are alive! Before you trot off to work each morning take a few minutes and drink your coffee outside on the porch swing. Take a brief stroll around your yard each evening and admire nature then gaze at the stars. Do this on a consistent basis and incorporate it into your personal lifestyle. Take a hint from nature and beautify your surroundings with creativity. Small changes are often the big changes. Think about it. Life changes and flys by unnoticed unless we intentionally stop and literally smell the roses along the way. You can make changes in your own corner of the planet.
Go outside some night this week and gaze at the stars. Discuss the physical properties of stars. What are stars made of? Do stars change? How are humans connected to the universe? the sun? the moon? How does the earth change when it rotates around the sun? Jump up and down then write about gravity.
Pick a morning and watch the sunrise. Jot down your thoughts about why and how the sun rises and sets every day. Describe the sunrise in your own words.
What planet would you want to visit and why?
Hold some dirt, sand, and rocks in your hand. Describe how we depend on these items for our survival. Write a letter to planet earth. Write a letter to the creator of the earth.
Visit a nursery and purchase a small plant for your windowsill. Draw the life cycle of a plant. Discuss the ingredients it needs to grow. What causes stunted growth?
Visit a body of water (i.e., pond, lake, river, stream, creek, ocean). Describe the importance of water in five words. Write a poem to water.
Set quietly by a window and listen to the next rainstorm. Turn off the TV and noise.
Close your eyes and pay attention to your breathing. Try to breathe in harmony with
the rain sounds. Imagine that you are a raindrop. What would you say to the earth as
you trickle down from the sky?
Discuss how your life changes each year with the four seasons. What season resembles your personality traits? Describe the earth's seasonal cycle.
Connect or reconnect with nature on a monthly outing & keep a journal.
Consider becoming involved in an organization that recycles or buy less plastic and
paper. Sell your used items on e-bay. Purchase used items at thrift stores instead of
new items at department stores.
When you buy a new item, donate another older item to charity.
Plant a few tomato plants in buckets on your patio or porch. Give some tomatoes to your neighbor.
Plant herbs in small clay pots and place on a windowsill.
Hang a birdfeeder outside your kitchen window. Hang a hummingbird feeder from a tree. Make a home for toads and frogs; they eat flies and bugs. Hang a bat house in your garden as bats eat insects. Make peace with helper insects, bugs, and spiders, as they are a vital part of nature and the food chain.
Make a compost heap in your backyard for your garden.
Pick up the trash on the street where you reside.
Create an enclosed terrarium for your living room.
Paint a mural of nature on your wall.
Install solar panels on your roof.
Reorganize your home and use the space wisely. Donate unused items to your neighbors, friends, and homeless shelters.
Teach your children, nieces and nephews, and neighborhood kids to honor and respect nature and our planet home. Teach them about change and to accept change.
Ponder on the elements found in water.
Excerpts from my guidebook, Deepening Change. Copyright 2006. Updated 2008. Permission to use with proper credits.
Deepening Change explores in-depth meaning, spirituality, altruism, benevolence, empathy, compassion, and dialogue about life and death issues. The focus is on both inside and outside change. I share personal experiences and reflections on self-exploration, self-understanding, self-acceptance, self-love, and my journey to deepening change.
Melissa writes about the God and human connection and condition.