God created the natural world, and one of the best ways to connect with God is through nature, says Douglas Gerard Kleinsmith, a marketing professional and avid hiker. Long before humans built churches, temples, synagogues, or mosques, they experienced God outdoors, under the fig tree or the burning bush, for example, he says.
Here are five ways to connect to the Creator in nature.
Reading Scripture outdoors offers a different experience than reading it inside. For example, Kleinsmith says, “He leads me beside still waters” becomes alive when you read it next to a stream. “Nature also can calm your soul so that you become more receptive to the messages in the passages,” he says.
Walking or hiking can also connect you to God, especially when you take the time to notice the natural miracles along the way. For example, you can see the bees as they participate in pollination or crocuses peaking out from amid the frost, he says.
Meditating also takes on different qualities when done in nature, he says. Just sitting on the grass with your back against a tree and breathing slowly can calm your mind to hear God’s voice, Kleinsmith says.
Planting something, like a flower or vegetable, can also help you experience God. You don’t necessarily have to possess a green thumb. Lettuce and most root vegetables grow easily. Sunflowers are among the easiest flowers to grow in many parts of the country.
Experiencing the process of watching something sprout from seeds and grow can instill an appreciation of God’s creation. It can also improve understanding of many of the references Jesus used that involved nature, such as the parable of the mustard seed or references to the harvest, says Kleinsmith.
Mindfully exercising outdoors can also bring closeness to God. Before beginning, you can thank God for your physical body. Then, while warming up, you can turn over any stresses, grief, or worry to God. Turning over our burdens to God clears the mind. During the cooldown, you can talk to God about things that spring to mind. When you finish the workout, you can thank God for being with you and blessing you during the workout time.
By mindfully spending time with God in nature, we can renew our minds and refocus on our mission to care for others, Doug Kleinsmith says.