Nature study is an essential part of our life and homeschool. Even when we lived surrounded by pavement, we found spots of green beauty within walking distance—although sometimes it was a long walk. Nowadays we live in a small paradise, with woods, wetlands, farmland, birds, mammals, insects, our garden, and more.
As I stood among the shoulder-high raspberry canes on Thanksgiving Monday, I realized that living in such a wonderland does not mean anything in itself. No, we still need to get outside. We need mindfulness to listen, see, smell, and feel. We need to spend time and to be patient. And, above all, we need to give thanks.
Fall-painted leaves, blue sky, fuzzy caterpillars, and the smell of early morning are gifts to us from God. And, as we so carefully teach our children, it is important to say ‘thank you’ when we receive a gift, especially an unexpected and undeserved one.
What’s more, when we thank God for nature, we are taking a significant and controversial philosophical stance. We are confessing that God has created the world. And that has a huge impact on our nature study in at least three ways:
- There have always been those who worshipped nature and feared it. History abounds with examples, and nowadays environmentalism tends in this direction.
- But we worship God who created the world, not nature itself, and how liberating that is!
- There are also those, especially in our detached society, who completely ignore nature. They are content to live among screens, fast food, money worries, and cement.
- But because we know our God has created the world, we are motivated to pay attention to it and to care for it.
- There are even those who say, sadly and with existential angst, that the natural world is not really real; we’re making it up as we go along. This philosophy is behind so much of today’s despair.
- But we know that God is the great ‘I Am’ who exists and through whom all things exist. We don’t have to lose ourselves in the convoluted logical results of foolish ideas.
Yes, there are many consequences to the fact that God has created the world, and one of them is that nature study is possible and has meaning.
So get outside, learn about the natural world around you, and give joyful thanks to the God who made it all. Soli Deo Gloria!