I was raised in the hills of eastern Tennessee. Our home backed up to thousands of acres of National Forest lands and our family was constantly surrounded by the awesome beauty of nature.
As a child I didn’t think much about the benefits of such a pristine life, but as an adult I realize how soul-nourishing that simple, natural upbringing was.
There are many pages of comments from one of my favorite authors, Ellen White, about the benefits experienced from the natural world. Here is a sampling of her observations:
“In the natural world, God has placed in the hands of the children of men the key to unlock the treasure house of His word. The unseen is illustrated by the seen; divine wisdom, eternal truth, infinite grace, are understood by the things that God has made.” CT 187
“God has surrounded us with nature’s beautiful scenery to attract and interest the mind. It is His design that we should associate the glories of nature with His character. If we faithfully study the book of nature, we shall find it a fruitful source for contemplating the infinite love and power of God…. The great Master Artist has painted upon heaven’s shifting, changing canvas the glories of the setting sun. He has tinted and gilded the heavens with gold, silver, and crimson, as though the portals of high heaven were thrown open, that we might view its gleamings and our imagination take hold of the glory within.” ML 294
“And as we behold the beautiful and grand in nature, our affections go out after God; while the spirit is awed, the soul is invigorated by coming in contact with the Infinite through His works.” FE 443
“In itself the beauty of nature leads the soul away from sin and worldly attractions, and toward purity, peace, and God…True happiness is found, not in the indulgence of pride and luxury, but in communion with God through His created work.” SD 170
I think an accurate summary of Mrs. White’s philosophy is that living close to nature helps us understand the Bible, promotes all types of health, and refines our characters.
Calming the chaos
Additionally, I believe contact with the beauty of nature restores balance to our lives by providing for the process of reflection. Psalm 46:10 ways, “Be still and know that I am God.”
In his book Christian Search for Beauty author Harold Hannum says: “Silence has a therapeutic value for ears and minds continually beaten by clamor. We need to learn anew the value of silence and the need in our own lives for times of quietness.” p 139
Of course, Nature is not always silent. Yet the absence of man-made sounds and sights creates a perfect environment for absorbing the gifts of natural beauty God has lavished on us.