In these later decades of life, I have come to see even more fully the value of being immersed in the natural world. The lessons I learn from being among nature’s small and large wonders form the basis of this series of blogs. Today’s thought: How the natural world encourages elders to rejoice in their lives!
“How ARE you?” people ask. My consistent answer: “Happy to be alive!” I’m so glad to be participating fully in the life God has given me. How good it is, that after all these years, I’m still moving around inside God’s world, trying to do the work God has called me to.
Nature is one of the places in God’s world where I’m happiest to be alive. In the natural world I see evidence of life almost everywhere I look. Some of it subtle, but most of it right there in front of my eyes, nose, hands and feet. Plants, birds, insects and animals, of course. The ground is full of microbial energy. Clouds bring life in the form of moisture. The sun coaxes plants to manufacture chlorophyll. The ground warms and cools to provide sustenance and protection. The beauty of God’s creation confirms that life is not a dull-and-listless existence, but full of delight, surprise and joy.
What seems to be old and dead turns out only to be dormant—waiting for the right conditions to spring back to life. When abundant moisture visits, arid deserts turn into nurseries for plants and playgrounds for creatures. Cicadas wait in the ground for many years before emerging. Dry seeds carry in their cores the ability to become crops, flowers, habitats.
Life prospers doggedly in seemingly uninhabitable places. Weeds make homes in tiny cracks in a sidewalk; squirrels build twig-and-leaf winter homes in bare trees; mosquitoes find breeding moisture in wet grass; penguins live in sub-zero climates; cacti grow tall and strong in hot deserts; seedlings emerge from the aftermath of a forest fire.
In its natural surroundings, life is not without perils, and so is precious. In predator/prey interactions, life is taken to enable life; ever-present dangers—weather, cataclysms—can snuff out life suddenly; food supplies can disappear; human actions can ruin habitats or interrupt migration patterns.
The Bible speaks about seemingly inanimate parts of the environment as alive. Stars, sun and moon, waves, storms, darkness/light and mountains/hills show their purposed liveliness in God’s hands. (See the latter chapters of Job and Psalms for examples.)
Life is everywhere, and I’m part of it! Energy, spirit, vigor—nature’s and my own—intersect in life-lessons that I have carried with me all these decades. Some examples:
• My life is part of a huge and complex web of life. I am not alone.
• In the driest parts of my life—perhaps now that I’m older—it’s not unreasonable to pray for new life, renewed energy, newly found purpose, health and healing.
• It’s wise to trust older adults’ will to stay alive in spite of circumstances.
• If I think that an older person lacks beauty or significance, I should always look again, but more closely—admirable vigor is in there somewhere!
• I am totally dependent on the natural world for my life. Self-sufficiency is only partially realistic.
• I have every reason to invite wonder and awe to be my emotional companions.
• I can cherish every part of my life—every breath, every relationship, every conversation, every accomplishment, every sight/sound, ever part of my growing older, every person.
• Death is not the end of anything. Resurrection is proven by Jesus, by the trustworthy, consistent life cycles of flora and fauna. In the end, life wins.
As I continue being happy to be alive—reinforced by the liveliness present all around me—I can remain responsible for preserving and protecting every part of the natural world. In thanksgiving to the God who creates life continually, I can continue to offer my life to God’s will that abundant life is available to every part of creation, including older adults.
And I can keep learning.
(To subscribe, go to the upper right hand corner of the top banner and click on the three parallel lines or three dots. Scroll down to the subscription form and enter your information.)