Growing up, my family owned a little piece of heaven cradled between mountain peaks. Those five acres surrounded by hundreds, began at the edge of a spring-fed lake and shot straight up the side of a mountain.
As an adult, I treasure thoughts of those weekends spent camping, and eventually, sleeping in the tiny cabin on stilts. But as a fourteen-year-old, I mostly wanted independence. Driving the dirt road that circled the lake and straddled the dam was the only way to find it in the mountains. The fact that I played my dad’s Statler Brothers eight-track tapes gives a hint as to my desperation in this remote area.
But I came to enjoy walking the acres of woods surrounding our five. Sometimes I’d pack a lunch, a notebook, and my tall, slender wildflower identification book.
I learned how different spots in the woods held their own secret offerings. An abandoned logging trail left faint marks of a time long past even though the feathery fiddlehead fronds did their best to cover them altogether. A particular slope peppered in Mountain Laurels hosted a variety of wildflowers. That’s where I sat to eat a bite and jot down notes on the flowers— their colors, number of petals, and shape of leaves.
I knew about Jesus when I walked through those woods years ago, but I didn’t have a personal relationship with Him. Still, God used the intricate details of the Jack-in-the-Pulpit’s, Cinnamon Ferns, and Pink Lady Slippers to reveal His intricate designs and the care He gave to even the smallest, and mostly unseen, parts of His creation.
Gradually, I see now, He was drawing me to Himself through the simplicity and beauty of nature long before I recognized Him as my sweet Savior.
My childhood experiences in the woods later played a part when I began teaching the Bible. At the time, I didn’t realize I was integrating sensory elements into the lessons. There was a desire to offer real healing frankincense to feel and smell, bags of beach sand to remind us how often God thinks of us, and a crown of thorns plant to touch not only fingers but also the heart.
God wired us with senses to make our way through the world physically,but God also uses them to draw us nearer to Him, much like what happened to me years ago. It’s for this reason I wrote “Pauses for the Vacationing Soul: A Sensory-Based Devotional Guide for the Mountains,” and why I created a “Come and Consider” Gathering, a four-week opportunity to connect with God through our senses this fall. Check out my Facebook Group, Creative Pauses, and spend time with us on Thursday nights through October 8th. It’s never too late to join in the worship around the campfire. Click here to join the group.
But before you do, I’d love to hear how God has used nature to draw you closer to Himself
More about Cathy: Cathy Baker is an award-winning writer and author of Pauses for the Vacationing Soul: A Sensory-Based Devotional Guide for the Beach as well as Pauses for the Vacationing Soul: A Sensory-Based Devotional Guide for the Mountains. Cathy is a Hope*Writer, a member of the Advanced Writer and Speaker Association, and a Bible teacher who has taught numerous studies and workshops over the past twenty-five years. Her work has been published in Chicken Soup for the Soul, The Upper Room, and Focus on the Family’s Thriving Family. She and her husband, Brian, live in the Blue Ridge Foothills and she writes from a space out back lovingly known as the Tiny House on the Hill. Connect with Cathy @ Creative Pauses from the Tiny House on the Hill @ https://www.cathybaker.org, or find her on Instagram @CathySBaker.