The Connecting Power of Nature: The Bridge of Self and Spirit

World Environment Day: How Natural Mindfulness Leads to Spiritual Connection

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Stop and smell the roses

June 5th marks World Environment Day—a global initiative aimed at fostering ecological dialogue and problem-solving. Across various religions, nature holds profound significance, often serving as a sacred emblem of faith. Aligned with Christian perspectives on nature, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints encourages its members to embrace the natural world as a manifestation of gratitude and worship. The late Apostle Elder M. Russell Ballard emphasised the importance of engaging with nature when he exclaimed, “to truly reverence the Creator, we must appreciate his creations. We need to plan to take time to observe the marvels of nature.” In a world consumed by busyness, Elder Ballard advises Church members to 'stop and smell the roses' as a means to reconnect with God, others, and themselves.

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Take Time to “Be Still”

Personal Mindfulness

In the Bible, God exhorts, 'be still and know that I am God.' In today's fast-paced society, achieving this stillness is challenging, especially for younger generations. The Covid-19 pandemic, however, forced many into isolation, offering a personal reset and teaching the value of being present and mindful. One increasingly popular method of practicing mindfulness is by spending more time in nature. Scientifically proven to enhance mental well-being and foster positive thinking, engaging with the environment not only facilitates stillness but also promotes psychological health. Nature elicits self-reflection, provoking many to dig deeper into themselves to gain personal insight and inner tranquility.

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Mindfulness Leads to Spirituality.

The Bridge to the Divine

Former Church President John Taylor remarked, 'Whether you look at birds, beasts, or the human system, you see something exquisitely beautiful and harmonious, worthy of contemplation that there was a God.' In an increasingly secular world, the concept of God's existence is often overlooked. Yet, immersing oneself in nature often prompts deeper existential questions. Elder Stephen L. Richards, another late Apostle of the Church, equated beauty with 'pure religion,' doubting “if any rational being ever entertained a concept of God, that is, as a personal being, except in surroundings of beauty and exquisite loveliness.” For Latter-day Saints, encounters with the divine often occur in nature, as evidenced by the restoration of the Church, which began in a grove of trees where Joseph Smith Jr. beheld God and Jesus Christ. Nature serves as a conduit for connecting with the divine, prompting individuals to seek spiritual experiences.

In alignment with many other faith traditions, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are called to be stewards of the earth, viewing nature as a bridge to God. Through nature, people learn to 'be still' and discover that God may be closer than they previously thought.