How would you like to enjoy time in nature this summer? Exploring natural settings is a powerful way to discover wonder in any season. Summer offers all sorts of opportunities to do so. You can swim in a lake or ocean, pick your own fruit and vegetables on a farm, hike through a field of flowers, and much more.
Wake Up to Wonder describes research that highlights the many well-being benefits of spending time in nature. Those benefits include relieving stress, feeling awe and happiness, strengthening sleep, and reducing the risk of many diseases. The main way that nature leads us to experience wonder, according to research the book explains, is by inspiring us to feel connected to something greater than ourselves. That sense of connection may lead us to become more aware of God’s presence with us.
Every moment of wonder we encounter in nature is actually a connection with God. “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made…” Romans 1:20 says. Nature reflects the qualities of its Creator. In Wake Up to Wonder, I describe how five aspects of nature commonly found around the world (the sun, water, rocks, trees, and flowers) reflect God’s glory. The sun highlights God’s life, hope, and wisdom. Water clarifies God’s salvation work, clarity, purity, and mercy. Rocks reveal God’s strength, trustworthiness, and eternal yet dynamic nature. Trees show God’s wisdom, protection, and connected presence. Flowers draw attention to God’s order, fun, and beauty.
Praying and meditating outside in nature can help you notice God’s presence with you there. These blogs on the sun, water, rocks, trees, and flowers all feature prayer and meditation ideas, as well as Bible verses, that you can use for devotional time in nature this summer.
One of our family’s favorite ways to enjoy nature is to visit parks. We especially love the Junior Ranger programs at U.S. national parks. Even though our children are grown now, that program – which is available for people of all ages – helps us learn all sorts of fascinating information about the natural wonders of each park. I encourage you to visit any parks you can this summer with your family and friends, tapping into the lifelong learning mindset that will help you discover wonder. Every day this summer, try to make some time to explore nature. No matter what the weather is like, or whether you can get to a park, there is always natural wonder to experience outdoors. Even a few minutes of walking in the rain, watching a sunset, or gazing at a tree can inspire you with awe this summer. Enjoy!