And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:14 ESV
In modern day western society we go to great lengths to remove ourselves from the discomforts and inconveniences of the natural world. As I write this I’m sitting in a comfy air-conditioned room at about 76º while it’s nearly 100º outside. We drive in climate controlled vehicles to offices in modern buildings, and back daily. It’s possible to rarely come in contact with nature in any sort of meaningful way.
Jesus lived his life on earth very differently. He stayed close to the natural world and was intimately in tune with its rhythms. In the words of Henri Nouwen, “He knew about the grass that withers and fades, the rocky soil, the thorny bushes, the barren trees, the flowers in the fields, and the rich harvest. He knew because he walked so much and felt in His own body both the harshness and the vitality of the season. Jesus is deeply connected to the earth on which He walks.”
This is one of the great truths of the incarnation. The Creator of the universe became a man and walked among us. He didn’t just put the world into motion and leave it to its own devices; He limited Himself to human form and experienced His creation on a personal sensory level. He chose to be born a common carpenter, a man of dust, wood, and sweat. He traveled the countryside by foot and used the outdoors as His classroom. He knew the power of solitude in nature, and often retreated to quiet and empty places to commune with His father.
In our modern, busy society we would do well to follow the Savior’s example and strive to live more closely to the earth. To recognize as Nouwen did that we are each connected to the earth and to all who walk the earth with us. “Nature is not the background to our lives; it is a living gift that teaches us about the ways and will of the Creator.”
For some of us this just needs to start small. We can choose to walk to lunch rather than driving. We can carve out time to just sit by a lake or stream and listen to God. We can make the choice to sit outside and work for a bit rather than in an air conditioned office. We can retreat to quiet empty places from time to time to breathe the fresh air and stare at the stars. If we take these simple steps we may quickly discover that nature does indeed have much to speak to us about our Creator and His wondrous ways. May you find some time this week to walk the earth as Jesus did.