Tall, mature trees almost completely encircle our property. Giant poplar, white pine, maple, oak, beech, hemlock and cedar. Purposely, we’ve left the underbrush beneath them to grow wild. Why? Partly, it’s a shortage of energy and resources to tame the wildness resident there. Mainly though, it’s a desire to live near something wild and natural.
True, our house is surrounded by lawn and gardens where we even have space to grow some vegetables. And, yes, I have made a pathway through the woods to the stream at the back of our property. So it’s not all wild. But it’s quiet, peaceful and private. The domain of squirrels and chipmunks and raccoons and wild turkeys and a host of birds. We have neighbours, but none are visible.
This year, as we lounge on our deck, we remark more than ever what a soothing benediction it is to rest our eyes on the curtain of green that surrounds us. To listen to birds cavorting in and out of the branches. To let our eyes trace the trunk of an 80 foot tall white birch as it reaches for the sky. To watch the breeze make the trembling aspen dance. To hear the soft gurgle of our stream.
Most of us live in cities surrounded by concrete and skyscrapers or commute to and from suburbs filled with cookie-cutter houses crammed cheek by jowl. We’re busy rushing here and there. Our lives are scheduled to the max and full of noise. We become captive to our computers and cell phones and gadgets. And it’s all good. It’s a convenient way to live and work.
But most of us feel the need from time to time to get away from it all. Summer is a great time to do that. To visit some place that is not imprisoned in concrete. To hike through meadows that have not surrendered to industrial farming. To sit on the shore of a lake and read a book. To climb a mountain. To hike a trail through wild forests. To dip our feet in the vast untamed ocean. To cruise down a great river.
There is something rejuvenating about exposing ourselves to nature where it is relatively unspoiled by human schemes; closer to the way God created it. At least, that’s the way I see it.
In many ways, this has been a difficult year. We put our property up for sale last year. Fortunately, it didn’t sell. The Lord knew we needed a leafy sanctuary where we could see more clearly His creative hand and thus learn to trust him more.
So, why not use summer, or winter for that matter, to find a place where you can be more open to the message of God’s creation. “The heavens declare the glory of God. The skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge”(Psalm 19:1,2). “Since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made”(Romans 1:20).