Nature and relationships are key components of raising resilient children. This was the most important message I heard at the Alliance for Early Childhood Summit I attended recently. Many Christian Educators experience these truths as we nurture inter-generational communities and take children and youth to camps and retreats. We notice the combination of wonder, awe, peace and calm that people experience when outdoors. We observe the ways in which creativity and community are part of God’s image reflected in us. If our ministry team could only do one thing to nurture faith this next year, I would focus on finding ways to get inter-generational groups into nature.
Faith, relationships and nature are richly interwoven in a new picture book Candle Walk, A Bedtime Prayer to God by Karen Holsinger Sherman. As mother and child take an evening walk they “remember how to listen,” to both the sounds of nature and for the ways God is in our midst. The rich watercolor hues and ink silhouettes evoke the wonder of twilight and invite us outdoors.
The author of Last Child in the Woods writes, “healing the broken bond between our young and nature — is in our self- interest, not only because aesthetics or justice demands it, but also because our mental, physical and spiritual health depends upon it.” There is growing research on the positive physical and mental health benefits of time outdoors. Perhaps there is less research on the spiritual benefits. But I wonder, do we need a research study to confirm that getting outside helps us to connect with the Creator?
The beauty of Candle Walk, A Bedtime Prayer to God, is its simplicity. Take a walk. Snuggle in with a parent. Notice God in or midst. Embrace the ritual of evening prayer called “compline.”