Belated Sacred Life Sunday: A Much-Needed Return to the Outdoors

After weeks and weeks of snow and ice on weekends, making rural roads to the publicly accessible outdoor recreation areas near my home inaccessible, this weekend was sunny and warm and perfect!   Saturday I was too tired from my week of dealing with constant office stress and drama, a migraine and its subsequent med hangover, and an allergic reaction to really go anywhere, but yesterday I made a much-needed return to spending a Sunday afternoon outdoors.

I went to one of my favorite haunts, the local lake, holed up for a while in a gazebo by the beach, then walked along the beach.  For the first time in weeks, I felt internally still.  My breathing deepened as soon as I got out of the car.  I meditated with wind blowing through my hair and across my skin, with the warmth of sunlight on my face, and the scent of pine, fallen leaves, and lake water in the air.

View of pine and beach at Martin's Fork Lake. Taken 2/21/2010 with Canon PowerShot A 1100 IS.

The view from the gazebo where I sat. Taken with Canon PowerShot A 1100 IS.

Martin's Fork Lake, February 25, 2010

The view out into the lake from the gazebo. Taken with Canon PowerShot A 1100 IS.

I left a little after 4:00 p.m., as I was getting thirsty and had already finished most of the bottle of water I’d taken along.  By the time I left, all the tension had gone out of my body, and when I went to bed last night, my hair still smelled like sunshine and the lake breeze.   🙂

A few quotes came to mind when thinking of how I felt yesterday, and of finding a Sunday in nature sacred:

“My profession is always to be alert, to find God in nature, to know God’s lurking places, to attend to all the oratorios and the operas in nature.” — Henry David Thoreau

“Climb the mountains and get their good tidings.
“Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees.
“The winds will blow their own freshness into you…
“while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.” — John Muir

“Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts.” — Rachel Carson

“The happiest man is he who learns from nature the lesson of worship.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

Being outside by a lake, in an old growth forest, or in any state or national park anywhere is, for me, like being in the holiest of temples if I stop to pay attention.  And I need a regular dose of that.  The past couple months without it have been horrible, because it’s so hard for me to find inner stillness with the hubbub of housemates and the stress at the office and frenetic, materialistic energy of the weekly shopping.  Church–or at least the ones I’ve tried around here–doesn’t do it for me either, as, for one reason among many, I favor silent, solitary contemplation.

Here’s to hoping the worst of the winter weather is over, and ice and snow will no longer block my way to my places of comfort!

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