Nature Connection

For many, being outdoors surrounded by God’s creation is a key part of  spirituality.  Many tell us that nature is their church and when asked to describe a spiritual experience turn to a moment in nature for their example. 

On the other hand, we live in a society that is increasingly disconnected from nature.  There is a growing realisation that this is unhealthy, from wider society as well as from the church.  Examples of key projects to counter this and encourage re-connection with nature include the Forest School movement and the National Trust’s 50 things campaign to get children outside.   Within the church, Forest Church is encouraging forms of Christian spirituality that engage with nature, the outdoors and the cycle of the seasons. 

Matt Freer argues convincingly in his article in the book ‘Earthed’ (see below) that nature connection is vital to encouraging people to live more gently with respect to the non-human created order.   Asking unconnected people to live differently can have the opposite to the intended effect as guilt can be paralysing.  However, engaging with nature and deepening a love for the wider created order often goes way beyond personal spirituality and well-being when that love is translated into lifestyle choices.  If Matt’s argument is accepted then it means we need to encourage nature connection wherever possible.  It is both of value to the individual’s spiritual wellbeing and is also a key route into environmental awareness and action. 

 

Further reading:

Bruce Stanley and Steve Hollinghurst (eds) Earthed: Christian perspectives on nature connection 

Mystic Christ press 2014   http://www.mysticchrist.co.uk/press

Matt Freer, The power of nature connection to change the world.  In ‘Earthed’ –  see above. 

Forest School: https://www.forestschools.com/course-material/forest-schools-general/

National Trust’s 50 things: https://www.50things.org.uk/              

Forest Church:   http://www.mysticchrist.co.uk/forest_church