There was a time when meadow, grove, and stream
The earth, and every common sight,
To me did seem
Apparelled in celestial light,
The glory and the freshness of a dream.
As I read these words from William Wordsworth in the last section of Last Child in the Woods, I thought of a conversation I had recently had with some of my family. We were talking about how amazing meteor showers are and how unfortunate it is that sometimes kids pass it off as commonplace.
“I’ve seen stuff like that in a movie,” one sister imitated.
In a world where the computer generated image is so prevalent and so believable, it can sometimes be a challenge to awaken the awe that comes from experiencing natural wonders.
But it does come.
And it is so worth the effort.
In the last section, Louv recounts the influence nature has had on the spiritual lives of adults and children alike.
From Thoreau and Wordsworth to prophets found in scripture being “carried away to a mountain” both literally and symbolically has represented times of great learning, insight, and spiritual awakening.
I spent a summer working for a Boy Scout base in Jackson Hole, Wyoming after my sophomore year of college. Spending three months in a tent, riding a canoe or sometimes a raft down the same stretches of river day after day might not sound appealing to everyone, but it was like therapy for me. I gained personal insights that summer in Jackson that still serve to steady me. It was there that I believe I solidified gradual healing and change in perspective after battling a borderline eating disorder.
There’s something about nature that is quieting for me. And in that quiet my soul is fed.
Whether your spiritual roots lie in an organized religion or not, I do believe there is a spiritual aspect of human development. And that nature is a conduit to promoting that development. Conventional Christians may say it’s because God is the Creator and Master of these natural beauties, and of our very souls, thus they all resonate together. Others may simply say, as did the group of religious leaders cited in Louv’s book, that “to be spiritual is to be constantly amazed.”
Perhaps that amazement needs to be awoken in us as much as in our children.
I recently noticed my toddler looking beyond me as we walked outside. I followed his gaze, hoping to give him the words for what he was seeing. I saw the trees swaying in the wind. I saw vibrant blue skies with puffy clouds slowly wispy past. It suddenly looked new to me too. It looked amazing.
I talked about what we saw, gave him words like “tree”, “sky”, “clouds”, and “wind”. But shortly after, when we were outside on a similar day, he pointed again, and this time simply said with amazement, “Ooooh!”
Whatever your school of thought, religious or more simply spiritual, being regularly immersed in nature with our children seems a guaranteed way to stand together, constantly amazed.
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Start the read along at Part 1!