In my search to find new blooms and changes in the landscape this week, I came across teasels (also known as Dipsacus sylvestris). Prior to today, I did not know the name of this flower I have watched growing in the fields around my house. However, my curiosity got the best of me, so I did some research in one of my favorite books, Reader’s Digest North American Wildlife to find answers to my questions.
The spiny leaves and tall stalks make the teasel stand out among other wild flowers and weeds. The egg-shaped heads with delicate purple flowers that emerge from the bottom and climb to the top of the egg shape offer some of nature’s most intricate art.
Wondering as I Wander
Scanning the landscape along my running and biking route for other changes, I started to contemplate the many questions nature has brought to my mind over the years. From nature, I have learned how changes in color can act as warnings and signs. For example, after my bike ride tonight, the sky filled with dark gray clouds, bringing much needed rain to my area in the form of a brief thunder storm. After the rain passed, the sky turned deep red as the sun was setting, indicating the storm had passed and clearer skies would prevail over the next few hours.
Nature has also taught me to stop for a minute or two each day to observe my surroundings. Looking has taught me to listen, and listening has allowed me to gain perspective. Though these lessons came silently to my mind, body, and soul, they have impacted my physical, mental, and emotional well-being in a positive way.
I must admit it has taken me years to see the full benefit of stopping to observe nature, but the benefits have been worth the effort. Events that used to cause me great grief and stress no longer affect me as deeply, and I find true enjoyment in escaping in a run, a bike ride, or a few moments gazing at the sky.
Nature’s Best Medicine
Observing nature has been a part of my life since childhood, thanks to my late Uncle Jim, who loved walking in the woods, running, and biking. Watching him and listening to his stories about what he saw made me want to do the same, so like any admiring kid, I followed in his footsteps as best I could with the hope of someday being able to tells similar stories.
My diligence in following my uncle’s lead has proved most beneficial, for I now have stories of my own to share with others. Not a day goes by that I don’t find something in nature that I wish to share, be it a sunrise, a sunset, a rainbow, a feeling acquired while running and biking, or some other experience.
Through the years, I have found nature and exercise to be the best medicine for any ailment I may have. I read an article recently that explained many people suffer from mental illnesses that are curable with medication. To my dismay, the author only talked about man-made chemical s and pills and did not mention natural remedies, such as exercise or meditation. While I agree many ailments are treatable and that medication can help, I also think society has the misconception that being diagnosed with an illness is a sentence to limitations and unwanted physical, mental, emotional, and social side effects.
After all, God placed Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden along with nature’s creatures great and small, not in a bath of chemicals. I believe He did this because He wanted humans to experience the benefits of one’s surroundings and to show that life’s events are connected for a reason. These reasons are illustrated in nature, and if we are willing to stop for a few moments and reflect upon what we see, hear, and feel, we can find answers to our questions, solutions to our problems, and cures for what ails us.
Breaking Down the Stereotypes and Misconceptions
As someone who has had physical and mental problems over the years, I can attest that traditional medication does not work for everyone. My personal experiences lead me to turn to exercise and music as alternatives. Though these methods may not be as fast in relieving one’s symptoms, I have found the experience of trying different combinations of exercise and music therapy to be challenging, enlightening, and invigorating.
While the challenges can be daunting at times, the joy of finding the right balance can far exceed one’s expectations. The diligence of trying also allows one to find hope, which increases faith, which in turn increases one’s stamina and endurance for life’s trials and tribulations.
My runs and bike rides, along with lifting weights and flexibility exercises, have taught me much about life, myself, my surroundings, my faith, and my potential. Though I don’t particularly like all of these activities equally, I do find benefits in each one, which in turn allows me to see life from a different perspective and to take this perspective as a blessing amid life’s good, bad, ugliness, beauty, and everything else in between.
Tying Together Loose Ends
Though we may not always understand the who, what, when, where, how, and why of life events, we can learn from our experiences. We can also learn from others and from our surroundings. As we learn, we can use our knowledge to help both ourselves and others. Sometimes sharing what we know is the best gift we can give back to God for the many blessing s He bestows upon us each day.
As we make our way through life, may we learn what works best for us and for others. May we also be thankful for wisdom gained through our experiences, and may our willingness to share lead us to what we seek and need.
This post and the following poem pretty much wrote themselves in my mind during my bike ride tonight. Another added benefit to nature and exercise is the stimulus for creativity.
Nature’s Many Benefits
Early morning sunrise in the east
Glowing bright under the walnut tree
As the day breaks
And God’s grace takes
The shape and form of nature’s art
Spread before and afar
To the depths of the day
Across the breadth and width of the landscape
Through nature’s many benefits
Offered in the beauty below and within the heavens.
As the teasels growing in the field
Slowly emerge to reveal
Purple blossoms in egg shapes,
The colors in the skies above glow and fade
Through the movement of the sun and clouds
As each day and night come around
To lead the soul upon the journey
Through the seas of learning
And nature’s many benefits
Created to endure the rain below the heavens.
Like the moon on the rise
Amid the cloudy blue sky,
The river of life moves on
To deliver the heart inside to another dawn
Where in the light, all is made new,
As opportunities rise through
The wonder of nature’s art
And the thunder of the heart
Beating among nature’s many benefits
To free the soul within.
-Lisa A. Wisniewski
Resources and Related Links
Reader’s Digest North American Wildlife – http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/readers-digest-north-american-wildlife-readers-digest-editors/1118003359#productInfoTabs