For my Early American Literature class, I was assigned to take an hour long nature walk and write about the experience. So I walked to a park nearby my home in New Jersey, and once I reached it I sat by the Saddle River and watched the leaves float across the water. A leaf fell on my head and scared me. This reminded me of how out of touch I had been with nature recently.
I began to really miss my childhood and the past summer, when I spent a lot of time outdoors. Since the fall semester began, I’ve been spending most of my time in moldy buildings, crowded transit, and the concrete grid of NYC. I contemplated why I had even chosen to be a city person when nature is so beautiful and free from distractions. At that moment, I just wanted to sit in nature as Thoreau did, and write. My thoughts would be clearer; I would be less distracted; and my writing would be of pure, profound, and simple topics, rather than of bleak thoughts influenced by corruption.
There are many things to realize from nature. When I took a moment to focus on the environment, I saw so many leaves of all different shapes and shades. I thought, people are like these leaves: they are all so individually unique. And just like leaves dry up and fall from trees when the time comes, people too, dry up and their spirits detach from their earthly bodies.
Then I moved my eyes up a few inches and noticed the roots of the trees—the trees’ roots seemed to be intertwining with one another. And the trees themselves stood right on the edge of the water and were slightly leaning towards it. There are so many things to be realized from each simple occurrence in nature.
In his essay Nature, Emerson writes that, “all spiritual facts are represented by natural symbols. The same symbols are found to make the original elements of all languages.” I find it so interesting he says this because it holds true to what I believe and what my pastor preaches—that nature is Heaven’s language and God speaks through nature. So, it makes sense that all languages evolved from symbols of nature. And it is sad and true that, just as Emerson writes, “the corruption of man is followed by the corruption of language.” “Corruption of language” could mean slang and curse words in human languages like English, and also of the destruction of nature, which is the language God uses to speak to human beings.
Slang and curse words aren’t beautiful—such words are often used with strong negative opinions or during emotional rebellion. They arise from the corruption of humanity and taint language. Of course, people have become corrupt partly because they themselves have corrupted nature, which offers peace, clarity, and well-being. If people, who use profanity and slang even though they know better ways of speaking, spend some time in nature to clear their thoughts, they would probably use more positive and beautiful language.
And of course civilization is a necessity, but in order to prevent degrading the environment people live in, civilization should be done well— even artistically— and never haphazardly or focusing on money and power. Humans naturally attune to the environment, so more industrial and less natural environments result in problems, but a well-designed city with lots of trees and nature incorporated into the plan would suffice. People could live in a modernized community as long as there are enough trees to filter the pollution produced by cars and the negativity people sometimes carry. It’s amazing how nature filters not only physical pollution, but also mental pollution, and in a way, also aids in cleansing spiritual pollution.
There is much to be realized from looking at nature, and it is easier for us to be enlightened by looking at God’s direct creation, rather than man’s second creation. I need to go out into nature much, much more, no matter how busy I am in what people call “the greatest city in the world.”