Heaven and Nature Sing This month our challenge is to spend more time outside, observing and enjoying nature.
Studies are showing that spending time in a natural environment enhances our general
wellbeing. A study comparing participants who were instructed to make observations of
nature vs observations of buildings or non-natural things, came to the conclusion that “People
are, in general, substantially happier when they are in nature, compared to when they are in a
During the month of May, please complete the following challenges:
*Eat one meal a week outside.
*Observe the night sky for several minutes.
*Sit quietly outside for 10 minutes and in your notebook record all the sounds you heard.
* In your notebook or on plain paper, sketch something in nature from a distance, then look
at it up close and add some details.
*In your yard or on a walk: Feel five different textures outside and describe them in your
*In your yard or on a walk: Find 5 different smells outside and describe them in your
*In your yard or on a walk, photograph 5 things that you notice that made you feel something
positive or happy.
*Write down some bible verses, or a prayer that comes to mind after spending time in nature.
Give away: This month you are getting a star chart of the constellations you can see from GA
during the month of May. Also a couple sheets of drawing paper so you can sketch your
observations of nature. You don’t have to be an artist, the exercise is to notice the details
between looking from far away compared to up close. It can be something as simple as a leaf,
or a rock, a butterfly or a bug. If you have kids, this is a great Sabbath afternoon activity to
engage them in as well.
“But ask the beasts, and they will teach you; the birds of the heavens, and they will tell you;
or the bushes of the earth, and they will teach you; and the fish of the sea will declare to
you. Who among all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this? In his
hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of all mankind.” Job 12:7-10 ESV
Being in nature, or even viewing scenes of nature, reduces anger, fear, and stress and increases
pleasant feelings. Exposure to nature not only makes you feel better emotionally, it contributes to
your physical wellbeing, reducing blood pressure, heart rate, muscle tension, and the production of
stress hormones. It may even reduce mortality, according to scientists such as public health
researchers Stamatakis and Mitchell.
In addition, nature helps us cope with pain. This is nicely demonstrated in a now classic study of
patients who underwent gallbladder surgery; half had a view of trees and half had a view of a wall.
According to the physician who conducted the study, Robert Ulrich, the patients with the view of
trees tolerated pain better, appeared to nurses to have fewer negative effects, and spent less time in
One of the most intriguing areas of current research is the impact of nature on general wellbeing. In
one study in Mind, 95% of those interviewed said their mood improved after spending time outside,
changing from depressed, stressed, and anxious to more calm and balanced. Furthermore, time in
nature or viewing nature scenes increases our ability to pay attention. Because humans find nature
inherently interesting, we can naturally focus on what we are experiencing out in nature. This also
provides a respite for our overactive minds, refreshing us for new tasks.
In another interesting area, Andrea Taylor’s research on children with ADHD shows that time spent in
nature increases their attention span later.
Nature connects Another study at the University of Illinois suggests that residents in Chicago public housing who had trees and green space around their building reported knowing more people, having stronger feelings
of unity with neighbors, being more concerned with helping and supporting each other, and having
stronger feelings of belonging than tenants in buildings without trees. In addition to this greater sense
of community, they had a reduced risk of street crime, lower levels of violence and aggression
between domestic partners, and a better capacity to cope with life’s demands, especially the stresses
of living in poverty.
This experience of connection may be explained by studies that measured brain activity. When
participants viewed nature scenes, the parts of the brain associated with empathy and love lit up, but
when they viewed urban scenes, the parts of the brain associated with fear and anxiety were
activated. Author: Louise Delagran, MA, MEd
Isn’t it wonderful that our Creator God made us in such a way that just by spending time in a
natural environment, even looking at pictures of nature, bring us to better health and healing.
Let’s be sure to take advantage of this free gift