Bringing the Outside In
Nature consoles us in our pain, grief, and general lack of belonging
Not only did our home come with a yard full of treasure, but it also came with a solarium painted to match the yard around it. I am sitting here now as I write some reflections on the value of nature during these times of seemingly endless stress.
Children need positive affirmations for being (“I appreciate you just as you are.” “I hear you.” “I see you.” “You belong.”) When positive affirmations are not readily available in one’s family of origin, children may turn to pets to meet this need. When pets are not available, they may turn to nature.
Nature is an abundant source of positive affirmations for being. The sun doesn’t refuse to shine on a child because he or she misbehaved or got bad grades. Rather, its light is available to everyone. Similarly, nature doesn’t withdraw from our approach just because we lost our temper or had a bad day.
The sun shines on everyone.
Flowers bloom in front of everyone.
Birds chirp for all.
Breezes blow on all.
Throughout the pandemic, my yard has been a source of calm. When anxiety seizes my abdomen or anger clenches my chest, I step outside and find the company of an ever-available companion. I step outside and:
breathe in the air.
soak in my surroundings.
Then, grounded, I’d step back inside and bring the outdoors with me.
When I am outside, I find:
support in the ground beneath my feet.
holding in the garden walls.
reflection in pockets and pools of water.
vulnerability in the hummingbirds that hover nearby.
hope in the emerging buds and tendrils that reach out.
companionship in the weeping willow.
touch in the breezes.
life in the decay.
… life in the decay …
When I find life in decay, I think that maybe, just maybe, as it feels like the order and structure of the world are falling apart, something new might be getting ready to emerge.
This solarium in which I am now writing reminds me to get outside, to find wonder, to be open, to be grounded, and to bring all of that inside of me. When I am in touch with the wonder in the world, I am in touch with the wonder within me. When I am in touch with the wonder within me … I am in touch with the wonder within you …
No matter what, there is always an inspiration for wonder. We live in a society that seizes every opportunity to criticize and to shame; a society that has not only squelched wonder but is fearful of it.
Yet, as some structures fall apart in front of us and all around us, we can always find wonder—and life—in the decay.