I squinted my eyes open, but my head still lay heavy on the hot rubber. The sound of the water moving and the heat of the sun made me feel drowsy. When I opened my eyes, clouds were moving by lazily, and the mountains seemed to be enveloping us in a hug. I was supposed to be helping paddle, but they seemed to be doing alright without me.
These were my days as a kid. Trips down the river were as much a part of my childhood as T-ball is for most kids. Add in hiking, plenty of camping trips, skiing, and scuba diving, and you'd have a pretty good picture of what my life looked like as a kid.
Back then, I thought it was normal. I mean, isn't everyone's mom a river guide? But as an adult, I look back, and I don't want to take any of those memories for granted. I was lucky to have a mom and dad who valued time in the outdoors. I was lucky to have the value of nature instilled in me when I was young. But even for those who weren't as lucky, and who don't have a close connection with the outdoors, I still think the awe is engrained in them.
I believe that we, as humans, have an appreciation for nature written on our hearts. Whether it's driving the Going-to-the-Sun Road in Glacier and marvelling from your car, or trekking out into your local public lands just to get away. We were MADE to love nature.
Science supports it - our brains are healthier when we spend time regularly out in nature. That's why forest bathing is becoming a thing. But honestly, I don't think most of us need science to tell us that there's something there. We feel it. We feel it in our bones and to the depths of our souls. Being outdoors is healing. Being in nature is grounding. It immediately reminds us that there's so much more than just our lives going on on this planet. It gives us perspective and it allows us to disconnect with society and reconnect with creation.
Nature matters because we're connected to it. It matters because it's real. It matters because it is the ultimate masterpiece, and it connects us back to the creator.
I believe the natural world is our common ground. So let's love it AND each other well.
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