While in England recently, I had a brief conversation with the Uber driver who was delivering us to our destination. When he found out that we were Americans on vacation in the UK, he asked where we had visited and what we had enjoyed most. I mentioned our hiking in the Lake District as a highlight for me, and his face brightened as he shared his similar enthusiasm for the outdoors.
I was bemoaning the fact that in LA where I live, there is very little greenery and natural beauty, at least in comparison to what we were experiencing in England. Living amidst the unending concrete jungle and dead brown desert of a Southern California metropolis makes a visit to the natural beauty of the English countryside very refreshing.
In response our Uber driver made a rather profound statement. He said that when we stop enjoying nature, we lose something of our personhood. I don’t think he was saying that from a Christian worldview, acknowledging nature as God’s creation that points us to His beauty and glory. But even so, I appreciated his implication that we as humans are made to encounter and enjoy beauty and nature; thus when we are not regularly immersed in the beauty of creation (whether due to busyness or to lack of interest), there is something of our personhood that shrivels and withers.
Now certainly each one of us is wired differently and distinctly by God, and not everyone enjoys being immersed in the beauty of the outdoors to the same degree as I do, so I cannot make this a universal prescription. But I do know that my own soul is refreshed greatly through the beauty and stillness and wildness of God’s creation; thus when I get caught up too long in the treadmill of busyness that keeps me tied to an office and laptop and long commutes, my soul begins to shrivel. But when I can set the busyness aside and step away from the city and enter into the beauty of all that God has created, there is a refreshment and life that enters my soul.
Hiking in the Lake District of England is amazing and wonderful, and if you have a chance to experience it, I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. But there is natural beauty and stillness to be found much closer to home as well…yes, even in LA! May you be reminded (as I was by my Uber driver) that God has made us to enjoy and learn from and be refreshed by the beauty of His created world—so we would be wise to take regular time for retreat, not merely to enjoy nature but to enjoy the Creator of that nature, that our souls may be expanded and refreshed in Him.