The Beauty in Nature
I have always considered myself a spiritual person. When I was younger, I loved going to catechism and seeing my friends there. As a teen, I was involved in service projects through my church and taught religious ed. Moving into adulthood, my connection with church hasn't changed- I remain an active participant in the Appalachian Service Project and love the experience of going to mass.
When the pandemic started and churches closed, I initially felt a bit of a hole. Virtual church is not my thing; I just couldn’t feel a connection with the priest or God through a computer screen. Then I remembered a lesson from my high school religious ed class. They put us into groups and asked us to create a church. Of course as 15 year olds we all constructed the traditional building with a cross, the pews, and some people. Little did we know that the true meaning behind this was to make us realize that church has nothing to do with the building where it is. It’s anyone looking to make a connection to God.
From this, I asked my mom if instead of virtual church, she wanted to go hiking one Sunday and experience the beauty of nature. She was all in and a new Sunday tradition began.
That first Sunday, we did a simple walk in the neighborhood, but instead of just spending an hour together, we spent the whole afternoon together and talked about life. Then we got creative with our walks. We started to explore the city where my mom has lived for over 30 years. We discovered fantastic pathways with enormous crooked trees and wildlife that sometimes make you forget you’re even in a city to begin with. Then we branched out even further and found hikes all over Maryland.
Every week we are astounded by the beauty that surrounds us. We’ve seen snakes, turtles, herons, frogs, countless people, trudged through rain, soaked up the sun, and have loved every minute of it.
While I do miss the church experience on occasion, I could not be more grateful for the time I’ve spent with my mom outdoors. She is my rock and this only more solidified that. We’ve pushed each other through challenging uphill climbs and learned more about each other and ourselves.
John Muir once said “in every walk with nature, one receives far more than he seeks.”
I couldn’t agree more.