Our wild activities have so far included:
- Finding a tickly spider on a picnic
- Watching ants climb a tree
- Looking at sparrows having dust baths
- Exploring slippery seaweed on the Cumbrian coast
- Climbing trees, scrambling over rocks and paddling in Derwentwater
- Walking through a tree tunnel in the woods
- Being surprised by a barn owl flying past one morning
- Observing a snail moving across a wet pavement
- Giggling at a pink flower
- Marvelling at the wild strawberries growing on our road
- Searching for the Gruffalo in Whinlatter Forest
Ruth Valerio writes in Just Living about ‘nature-deficit disorder’ – a term coined by Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods, which I am now reading (bought from an independent book shop – I’ve been Amazon-free since 10 April!).
‘The impact of [this] lack of connection with the outdoors has been memorably summed up by Richard Louv in his phrase “nature-deficit disorder”. We are the poorer where we are separated from the natural world, and it impacts us on all levels: psychologically, emotionally, physically and spiritually.” (p.7 Just Living)
There’s something so beautiful watching children enjoy nature: the joy and wonder of Little Miss as she explores grass or touches a flower for the first time. Small Boy’s excitement as he hurtles down the stairs to get a better look at a robin on the fence. When do we become blasé about the wild around us?
My heart is growing softer and more childlike towards the natural world. I found myself welling up watching Sammy the Turtle and rescued a snail from the hot pavement earlier this week. (I’m becoming increasingly fascinated by snails! – did you know they’re omnivores and can move at 1.3cm per second?)
Ecological concern in one of the seven areas of practical response Ruth Valerio focuses in on the third section of Just Living. It’s the area where I have the most to grow as in common with many evangelical Christians, environmentalism as a ’cause’ has been a lower priority. I’m learning how this view is erroneous: God wants me to care for and delight in all he has created.
I’m a list-maker and so here’s my next activity list:
- Subscribe to a magazine for a year such as BBC Countryfile with the aim of developing ecological literacy (I’ve already done this for free by using Tesco vouchers)
- Make a bug hotel
- Take a reusable coffee cup out with me
- Visit the butterflies at the Natural History Museum with Small Boy and Little Miss
I’ve been shocked to discover that every straw I’ve ever used and every toothbrush I’ve ever had still exists – and I don’t just mean the collection in our shed saved for cleaning bikes. It takes 200 years for a straw to decompose and many of them find their way into the ocean. Read more about the problem of plastic debris in our oceans.
- Buy loose leaf tea (there’s plastic in tea bags!) Who knew?!
- Begin the zero waste journey
I’m also going to:
- Get outside more and notice the wildlife around me
- Learn about the theology of caring for creation
As I discover more about living justly, I realise there is always more that could be done and it’s so easy to feel a failure, or conversely feel smug or even judgmental. But living in grace (there’s nothing I can do to earn God’s love and nothing I can do to make him love me less) means neither polarity is accurate. I don’t have to try to earn love or Divine Eco-points – which can be cashed in at a later date for a blessing of my choice. Instead I choose to live gratefully, generously and with a global perspective, in the reality of God’s grace, neither berating nor congratulating myself.
So right now I’m going to step away from my computer, pick up my Bible and go and sit outside.