A couple of weeks ago when I started my new job and I found myself back in the familiar hustle bustle of the CBD, I began craving vast open spaces. I yearned from somewhere deep within to be surrounded by nature.
And then it occurred to me that I hadn’t left Sydney in almost four months, not since I touched down from our round the world trip. That’s a lot of time to be in the suburbs, in one place, with people, buildings, cars, in constant, close proximity.
The week I started my new job did end with a brief overnight visit to a conference in the Blue Mountains. Although it was an important trip for my new job, a great opportunity to meet and be inspired by the stories of some of the missionaries, by the time I left it was my sixth day at work (and up until this one I had been enjoying four day working weeks), so I was pretty exhausted.
Yesterday was date day. No sales shopping for this girl (not yet anyway!) We drove south to the Royal National Park, and once in, Adam wound all the windows down in the car. Not something I usually enjoy, but as my hair was whipped into a frenzy and I breathed in the smell of the gum trees outside, there could be no denying – it was good. Later, standing on Garie Beach for a few moments, with the southerly wind blasting the salty Pacific air into my face, gazing up at the vast cliffs, my soul started refilling.
The rest of our afternoon entailed fish and chips and ice-cream and a stroll on the beach. Stepping off the little footbridge onto the sand and wriggling my toes around in it – I think that added a few drops into the soul tank too. As did a long time just sitting in the sand, mid-stroll, watching Adam shoot videos on our new camera and the waves crashing over the low-lying rocks along the shore, each one causing tiny cascading waterfalls. Planes flew overhead, the ferry came and went, strangers wandered by and kids screamed as they played in the sand a few metres away. But it didn’t matter. If only for a day, I was back in nature and some dwindling part of me was coming back to life.
I wonder what it is that makes us humans need nature – to feel the sand between our toes, smell the salt air, see bushland all the way to the horizon and hear the sound of waves crashing on the shore. I knew I wasn’t trapped in the city, yet I felt ‘cooped up’ to a certain degree – perhaps more by the busyness of our schedule than by anything physical. It could be a bunch of things but above all, being in nature brings me back closer to its creator. That which I see, hear, feel, touch, smell points to Him. I’m a little closer, reminded of who I am and what matters, and my soul rejoices at the Lord of all creation.
This morning, after writing most of this post last night, I remembered the words of the Psalmist…
As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?