“My profession is to always find God in nature.” Henry David Thoreau
In the midst of chaos, God sends beauty and warmth to comfort us and to remind us of His love. This fact became so very evident to me on a recent field trip with my son and his fifth grade class to the local nature preserve.
Riding on the school bus during the long 45-minute ride to the forest, the screeching, shouting voices of schoolgirls rang out and pained my ears. But someone else’s ears were hurting even more than my own. I glanced at my sweet and sensitive 11-year-old son who was sitting with his friend in the seat behind me. Tears were forming in his blues, entire body trembling from the pain of over stimulation from too much noise with too little meaning.
At long last, the bus slowed to a stop and we stepped into another world, a natural world of hush. Here lay silent beauty waiting to engulf our tired, aching spirits and revive our thirsty souls.
My son stayed close to me, in the back of the group, where we could listen to the explanations of the trail guide, yet enjoy the music of the birds and try to pick out their individual calls without the noise of the other students interfering.
Have you ever noticed the smell of spring? I think it’s the fresh, natural fragrance that brings the butterflies to life and makes them dance among the wildflowers that strain to grow through last autumn’s deadened patches of leaves on the ground. Watching closely, we saw a toad hop toward the pond, perhaps startled out of his hiding place by the shaking of the ground from the many footsteps passing by.
We were in the midst of God’s arms, walking side by side, just my son and I, as if we were all alone in this beautiful world of nature. How could we not feel loved by God, as if the wonder of this perfect day in this natural setting wasn’t meant as a gift for the two of us? At the end of the long hike, we rested our weary bodies on a sunny meadow hillside and watched the puffy clouds pass by, beyond the waves of the birch leaves that danced and whispered in the wind. And we could breathe our prayer of gratitude in deep, drawn out exhalations of praise. I was reminded of Psalm 147:8 “He covers the sky with clouds, he supplies the earth with rain and makes the grass grow on the hills.”
And on the bus ride home, my son refused his friend’s request to share a seat, in favor of sitting with his mom. What a joy to my heart, to know that my son, who would soon become a man, wanted to stay close to me and wasn’t at all embarrassed as I rested my arm across his shoulders. We closed our drowsy eyelids and relaxed in the love of each other and the love of God, holding the silence of the day within us, completely oblivious to the chattering noises of the 5th grade students on the bus, until we arrived home once again.
“I will give you peace and quietness.” 1 Chronicles16:11
(also at CatholicMom.com)