When the stresses of daily living become burdensome, most of us crave an escape to a place where the pressures, annoyances, distractions, and anxieties of ordinary life are held at bay. More often than not, we crave an escape to wild nature. Unfortunately, for most city dwellers, retreating to nature is not that simple. Then again, we may not have to. I believe God has gifted His people with the ability to experience His calming peace practically anywhere—including the concrete canyons of metropolis or the endless plains of suburbia.
In the nineteenth century, American painter and anthropologists, George Catlin, wrote: “The further we become separated from the pristine wilderness and beauty, the more pleasure does the mind of enlightened man feel in recurring to those scenes when he can have them preserved for his eyes and his mind to dwell upon.”
What Catlin is saying—and what I’m suggesting—is this: Even when we are unable to escape to wild habitats in order to experience the calming peace God makes available in nature, we can still experience it in our minds. We can mentally retreat to our own private “Quiet Place.”
There was such a retreat for me less than an hour’s drive from my home, and for years this lovely spot was one of my favorite places to sit and enjoy the feel and sounds of wild nature. Although it was destroyed in the tragic forest fire of 2003 (see part thirteen), in my mind’s eye—even after all these years—I can still imagine myself once again sitting adjacent to a bubbling creek, sheltered by the sweeping arms of pine and cedar, and hearing the soft fluttering and calls of neighboring birds in the surrounding foliage.
James tells us that “every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights” (James 1:17). Those of us fortunate enough to know the Creator of all life can experience the amazing gift of being able to mentally escape to wild habitats, and there enjoy the calming peace God provides in nature. This same experience is available to anyone who sincerely seeks to know and follow the only true and living God. As the apostle Paul put it, “the God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth.” Further, He wishes that all people “would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us: (Acts 17: 24, 27).
This is one of God’s many “good and perfect gift(s)” offered to the entire human family—but experienced most fully and powerfully by his people. ©