I tend to not be very observant. I’m just not detail oriented and so I miss the little things (like when brandon shaves and it takes me a few hours to realize it, or potholes in the road). I guess you could say that I’m so obsessed with the forest that I miss the trees (and the underbrush and the bugs and the animals)
Lately, people around me have been sharing how much they experience God out in nature, and while that is sort of true for me, I don’t have monumental experiences in the wood or by a lake or whatever. I experience God much more through other people.
I was floored yesterday when I went for a hike with my friend, Nate. At first, it felt like any nature hike I normally embark upon – my eyes staring at the ground, watching for rocks or roots, glancing up whenever I hear a strange sound.
The path that we were on was incredibly soft and well marked, and gradually I got my confidence up and began to just look all around me. I saw nate touching the trees as he passed and thought to myself- wow – why don’t I do that? why don’t I get so close I can feel the life all around me. I began appreciating the fact that my chacos allowed me to feel the soft dirt and bark between my toes. I began touching leaves.
It soon began to rain. But under that cover of all those trees, it was just amazing. we were slightly wet to be sure – the air probably couldn’t have held any more humidity – but we really weren’t being rained on. And the drumming of thousands of raindrops above us was beautiful.
And then we began to see the deer. Now, I live in a wooded area in Iowa – and so I know all about deer. But I have never seen deer as tame as this or as close as this. We walked for an hour and a half and saw almost 10 adult deer, and at least 6 fawns. And they would be right by the path! we were probably less than 10 feet from some of the fawns who were eating the tender green foliage right by the side of the path.
At one point, we saw a doe and two fawns on the hillside right beside the path and they were gradually coming down the hill, so we stopped. Those two fawns just kept coming slowly, moving their way down towards us (and also probably heading for the lake on the other side of the path). The doe disappeared from sight, and while the fawns kept looking around, they also kept coming. They made an arc to keep their distance but eventually were standing right in front of us on the path. We were crouched on the path, when one of the fawns begins to slowly, cautiously walk towards us. And it only got so close before it began to get a little jittery and turned back. But then the other one had to do the same, and go a bit farther to show its sibling up. I cannot believe how close, how brave, how daring that little fawn was. And all at once it was startled by something and took off sprinting in the other direction.
Walking in the park, with someone who has a deep spiritual affinity with nature, really opened my eyes to everything that was around me. The world was alive all around me and it was okay to walk slowly, stop if necessary, to take it all in. I think that I still, for whatever reason, have more sense of connection with the dirt than with the trees looming above me. I feel like I can get down into the dirt and plant something and watch it grow, rather than touch or look up and see a being that has been there for a hundred years. Maybe that says something about my calling or my experience of nature to this point as a farmer’s daughter. But I didn’t know that the way I know it know. The ground. The roots. They beg for my attention. But i also got to appreciate on this walk the things that they nourish, sustain and support. that that was a beautiful thing.