There are always flowers for those who want to see them
5th March 2020
One of my first memories of primary school was being set the task of finding a Lesser Celandine flower. It looks quite similar to a buttercup and that’s why you have to look carefully. The teacher knew what she was doing because I believe it was her way of getting us to look more carefully and really notice the natural world around us. It certainly worked for me and I went on to be an enthusiastic curator of the school ‘nature table’ and it sowed the seed for a love of walking in the countryside and ‘noticing’ things.
In February of this year The National Trust published a document called Noticing Nature. One of their key findings widely reported in the press, is that for many people nature is sadly no longer an integral part of their life. It was reported that just 19% of children regularly notice wildlife and in the past year 57% of adults rarely or never watched the sunrise and only 27% frequently watched clouds. Listening to birdsong and looking at the stars are things humans have been doing since the dawn of time and these activities are not only free but enormously good for us.
The report’s research uncovered a powerful link between nature and both happiness and feeling life is worthwhile. Nature connectedness and ‘noticing nature’ has a significant impact on people’s wellbeing, both physical and mental. In fact it was found that the most ‘nature connected’ (the top 25%) had mean scores for general health that were 9% higher than the rest of the adult population.
Another important finding was that the more connected people feel to nature, the more they are likely to engage in conservation action. Therefore by reconnecting on a daily basis 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 connection.
The Henri Matisse quotation might of course be understood more symbolically as a commentary of 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. Such anxiety may of course be alleviated by getting out into nature whatever the weather because, as I’m sure you’ve been told, ’there’s no such thing as bad weather, only the wrong clothing’!
Finally the words of Jesus from Matthews’s gospel comes to mind:
“Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? 28 And why do you worry about clothes? Consider how the lilies of the field grow: They do not labour or spin. 29 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 the world around us.