Reverence for Nature – Part I

Rev’rence is more than just quietly sitting:
It’s thinking of Father parents above,
A feeling I get when I think of his blessings.
I’m rev’rent, for rev’rence is love.
When I’m rev’rent, it shows in my words and my deeds.
The pathway to follow is clear.
And when I am rev’rent, I know in my heart
Heav’nly Father and Jesus are near.

“Reverence Is Love,” Children’s Songbook of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 31

I am the Mormon part of a part-member family.  My husband would likely describe himself as a humanist and, if pressed for his opinion on God, an agnostic.   He promised long before we married that if it was important to me, he would be there; consequently he may be the most active nonmember you’ll ever meet.  Lately that consists of attending primary with our sunbeam which seems to suit both of them well.  But he finds religion in general troubling and Mormon doctrine peculiar.  I don’t think there is any amount of time that is going to change his views; I am more than ok with that.

Perhaps because of this difference in opinions about the nature of God, we have turned to a common love as our ethical foundation – reverence for nature.  Nature is a source of endless awe for both of us; many of our closest moments have been pondering the landscape or hiking in the woods.  Reverence for nature is my preferred method of worship.  This type of reverence is consistent with his humanist philosophies.

When our child came along, we naturally gravitated to a style of child rearing that also reflected reverence for nature.  Of course, as our child grows, the actualization of this notion changes a bit.  This has been surprisingly challenging as, looking back, I realize that reverence has changed from a very LDS conception to different one in my own mind.

There are two books (and probably others) that I’ve found particularly helpful in thinking through how to combine my upbringing where reverence equaled ‘thinking of Father above’ and – let’s face it – ‘quietly sitting’: Last Child In The Woods and Above All, Be Kind.

Over the next few days, I will be discussing each book separately, but before I do, how does reverence and nature intersect in your home?


9 responses to “Reverence for Nature – Part I

  1. laelyn July 1, 2011 at 8:12 am

    Nicole, this is very nice. As for my home — I grew up in a tiny so. Utah town and as a child was in and surrounded by the natural world most of the time. After moving to no. Utah and having children, we talked of the nature around us as much as possible, the beauty, the delicateness, how rocks form, etc. We also went outside the urban into the natural world whenever we could, continuing to talk, teach and read. As they grew and matured, they have continued on their own and are now photographing and writing, moving into areas of earth activism, as well as teaching their children. The first step though was to teach them about God’s love of us, his creation and love of all in the world and our responsibility to those creations.

  2. Pingback: Reverence for Nature – Part II – A Mormon and Humane Child « Our Mother's Keeper

  3. missy. July 2, 2011 at 9:59 am

    I spent the whole winter worrying about this, as we spent most of our time inside breathing stale air. (Which is probably better than breathing the horribly polluted air that descends upon Logan during the winter.) Now that it’s summer, I’m relieved that i can just be outside a lot with my little ones. I like watching them explore: play with rocks, investigate insects, touch trees, collapse on the grass and stare at the sky. I don’t structure our outside time very much, because I like to see what they notice next, and what they want to talk about. And they notice a lot.

    As I’m typing this, I can hear my daughter out in the garden carrying on a conversation with a potato bug.

  4. Nicole I July 2, 2011 at 10:22 am

    Missy – Winters are tough. Do you have room for a nature table? Just a tiny table or shelf in an area of your home (many say in the common living space) where you can put some of the kids’ nature treasures? We seem to not use our Waldorf nature table in the summer but in the winter it is very important. It allows us to bring the outdoors from the brief windows we are outside. Then we can admire and play with our pine cones, rocks, evergreens, fallen leaves for longer in the comfort of our home.

    And I love the nature conversations. Mine loves to talk to the plants as if they are babies (and he doesn’t talk to babies!). ‘yeees, plant, you were thirsty. Awww, is that better.’

  5. mfranti July 2, 2011 at 10:28 am

    Nicole, your son is exceptionally bright.

    I think it’s because you foster his exploration of the world. I love that. I wish more parents understood the importance of allowing children to explore their environments/natural world AND allow them to use their imaginations.

    I bet you even let your kid play in the dirt with worms.

  6. Nicole I July 2, 2011 at 11:24 am

    Oh yes, we are a dirt and worms family. Pretty much if it isn’t literally going to kill him immediately, he gets to do it. We’ve had some shocked observers as he kisses (on the beak) the baby chickens during his goodnight kiss rounds.

    No question is off limits. It has resulted in an extremely precocious child which I love most of the time. I should warn there are some challenges to this style. First, he is drawn to mechanical things and I don’t know how much longer I’m going to be able to keep up. He is teaching me about things like ‘trucks’ on trains – the shocks on the cars apparently.

    It also means that he can logically (or close to it) argue things that I’d rather he not. The example this week is that he learned how to ride a 2-wheeled bike with no training wheels; because he is only 3.5, he isn’t tall enough to start and stop on own. He knows how to dump the bike, but prefers not to. So, we are coming back from breakfast with the inlaws and he is riding. Papa – who had to go to work – left with strict instructions to listen to mama and go slower. As we approach the 3rd intersection, he starts yelling back that ‘its ok mama, I looked and this is a dead end street, [I don’t have to stop because] there isn’t very much traffic.’ Yeah.

  7. missy. July 2, 2011 at 6:07 pm

    I love the nature table idea! Like you said, the whole world is a nature table during the summer… but when it starts to get cold this year I will definitely make one of those.

    My little ones love worms, too. And ants (though they are afraid of some other kinds of bugs). We always find a lot of ants in the kitchen when it gets hot outside, and I usually sweep them outside. A couple of weeks ago my daughter noticed I was getting the broom and she yelled “Mommy, what are you going to do to my ant-friends?!” And instead she picked them up gently, one by one, and carried them all outside. She helps me remember that every living thing is sacred and deserving of kindness.

  8. Pingback: Reverence for Nature – Part III – Radical Amazement « Our Mother's Keeper

  9. Pingback: Littlebit of Trouble « The Life and Times of a Real Person

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