The Power of Nature
16th March 2023
‘There are always flowers for those who want to see them’ (Henri Matisse).
HOM: Responding with Wonderment and Awe/Listening with Understanding and Empathy
This week we mark the arrival of spring, and so we will be considering the importance of the natural world as something that contributes to human wellbeing.
The National Trust recently published a document called ‘Noticing Nature’. One of their key findings is that for many people nature is no longer an integral part of their life. Just 19% of children regularly notice wildlife and in the past year, 57% of adults rarely or have never watched the sunrise, whilst only 27% frequently watch clouds. Listening to birdsong and looking at the stars are things humans have been doing since the dawn of time and these activities are free.
The report also uncovers a powerful link between nature, happiness and feeling that life is worthwhile. Connecting to and noticing nature has a significant impact on our wellbeing, both physical and mental. In fact, it was found that the top 25% of people connected to nature had scores for general health that were 9% higher than the rest of the adult population.
According to our research, such moments are a defining factor when it comes to taking pro-nature conservation action. Noticing nature in small ways every day could lead to radical results. We’ve found that noticing nature and nature connectedness are strongly linked to people taking conservation action. Therefore, by reconnecting daily we could be laying the foundations for the very survival of our planet. We are less likely to destroy that which we love and to which we feel connected.
People taking conservation action are more likely to be noticing nature than they are to be studying it. They’re not necessarily going on big outdoor adventures but they are enjoying simple moments with the natural world.
The Henri Matisse quotation might be understood more symbolically as a commentary on the way we perceive life overall. We can become overwhelmed by anxiety and no longer open our eyes to see to the positive in our lives. And then, the words of Jesus from Matthews’s gospel come to mind:
Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? And why do you worry about clothes? Consider how the lilies of the field grow: They do not labour or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his glory was adorned like one of these…(Matthew 6:28-29)
So, let us experience nature first-hand this season of Lent and through that encounter, gain a new perspective on our own lives and on the world around us.