Nature’s Beautiful Gifts - Sunday, August 14, 2016
The best remedy for the stresses and tensions of modern life is simpler than we might think: spend some time outside. When we interact with the natural world, we feel less stressed, more focused, more contented and happy. There’s something invigorating about the subtle yet pleasing stimulation of nature—the sound of a trickling brook, the sight of a bird taking flight, the fresh smell of earth right after a rainstorm. Nature has an undeniable, uplifting effect on us that’s hard to define but easy to feel.
As a society we have long acknowledged the value and importance of nature. It was 100 years ago that the National Park Service was established to preserve some of America’s precious areas of natural beauty. And now research is starting to prove scientifically what we have long known intuitively. Studies show that spending time in nature calms our nerves, improves our brain function, and boosts our mood. Just a few minutes outdoors to literally “stop and smell the roses” can lower our heart rates, clear our minds, and even redirect our brain activity away from negative emotions.1 Simply put, we feel better when we are outside.
Unfortunately, too many people are not experiencing enough of nature’s benefits. Children don’t play outside as much as they once did; one study found that only 10 percent of American teens spend time outside each day. On a given day, the average adult spends more time in the car than outdoors.2 And fewer families are visiting national parks—like this one in Yellowstone—that our National Park Service has been protecting and maintaining now for five generations.
When one woman was going through a particularly difficult time after a divorce, she found comfort in the outdoors. She walked along mountain trails, gazing at colorful leaves and wildflowers, spotting animals, and listening to nature’s soothing sounds. The time she spent outdoors became a solace to her soul. It helped heal her broken heart and bring a sense of order and peace to her otherwise unsettled life.
Somehow when we are in nature, we gain better perspective for our life and the problems we face. Perhaps being closer to creation brings us closer to the Creator. As George Washington Carver once said, “I love to think of nature as unlimited broadcasting stations, through which God speaks to us every day, every hour, and every moment of our lives, if we will only tune in.”3 So open the windows. Better yet, open the door, and step outside into the natural world. Breathe deeply as you listen and look. Feel the wind against your face, and enjoy nature’s beautiful gifts.
-Lloyd D. Newell
1. See Florence Williams, “This Is Your Brain on Nature,” National Geographic, Jan. 2016, ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2016/01/call-to-wild-text.
2. See Williams, “This Is Your Brain on Nature.”
3. “How to Search for Truth,” in William J. Federer, George Washington Carver: His Life and Faith in His Own Words (2002), 72.
August 14, 2016
Broadcast Number 4,535
Mormon Tabernacle Choir
Orchestra at Temple Square
"Give," Said the Little Stream
William B. Bradbury; arr. Ryan Murphy
Brother James's Air
James Leith Macbeth Bain; arr. Mack Wilberg
In Christ There Is No East or West
Somewhere, from West Side Story
Leonard Bernstein; arr. Arthur Harris
Look at the World
Based on Toccata from Organ Symphony no. 5
By Charles-Marie Widor