My earliest memories of bird watching are during visits to my great-grandma’s house throughout my childhood and even into my teens up until she died. My mom and I visited her a couple of times a month, and I can still picture her standing at her kitchen sinking watching the birds on the feeder outside.
When my husband and I moved into our cabin in the woods, I never guessed I would not just revisit these memories but also make them into a connection with the natural world around me. I could not help but notice the abundant wildlife surrounding our new home, especially the many different types of birds. Gradually, what seemed only to me an old person’s hobby became a growing interest. Four years and four birdfeeders later, I am a self-professed birdwatcher. I have found 50 birds in my bird book (a goal on my 50×50 list), and I enjoy learning about their habits and watching their social lives.
Why was I drawn to bird watching when we moved? Why am I still drawn to it? Partially, it’s my habitat and exposure to them. There are just more birds around me more ever before. In other words, where I placed myself affected my habits.
Into the Woods
It’s also largely because of my deliberate choice to simplify my life. This choice has led to a host of benefits, not the least of which is an increased appreciate for the natural world. In that, I have discovered that not only is God increasingly visible in nature the more time I spend in it, but I’m also increasingly drawn to the natural world to be able to see him more clearly.
Elijah fled into the wilderness by himself (1 Kings 19). John the Baptist lived there (Matthew 3). Even more significantly, Jesus spent time there as well (Matthew 4:1-11). Following these examples, I better understand the famous words of John Muir now gracing t-shirts, coffee cups, and more.
“Into the woods I go to lose myself and find my soul.”
The wilderness is a place where one can find himself and lose himself at the same time. I may not live in a wilderness, but the woods surrounding my home certainly give me a protected place to cry out to Jesus and develop strength and wisdom to preach the Gospel. Everyone needs a safe place like this — a wilderness where they can explore God without interruption — to search and then find themselves in Christ through connection to his creation.