Last week I spent five days quarantining. For the most part, I remained within the confines of the house where I live. I made the decision to isolate myself after learning that I'd been in proximity to someone who had been exposed to someone else who tested positive for covid19. If I'd gotten it, the last thing I wanted was for someone else to get it from me. Many things in life are better when shared. Covid's not one of them. Fortunately, after five days in quarantine I learned that the person whom I had gone hiking with tested negative. Quarantine over.
Physical isolation from the world was, logistically speaking, a simple task. Surely due in part to the position of privilege I have in life, quarantining was easy. I had an entire house with plenty of space. I was able to continue my work using email, telephone, and video chat. I watched the occasional flock of migrating geese and hawks out the window. I also watched the Cornell Lab's Feeder Cam's in Ontario and Panama for pleasure. Erin made a quick trip to the grocery store so we'd have plenty of food for the week.
Then I got to reflecting. Due in significant part to the individualistic nature of contemporary American culture I had my own space to retreat to. I didn't have to create it in a hurry. It was there all along. I didn't have to tell anyone else that I needed this house to myself for quarantine. Quarantine or not, as a general rule, most of us have four walls that provide privacy and with it separation from our neighbors on a regular basis.
It was convenient and reassuring that I had a place to isolate to for the sake of the well-being of my neighbors. However, the degree to which our culture would have us live apart from the other people in our communities and from nature is troubling. There is a truth that many of us have become acutely aware of through our social distancing efforts; we long for connection. We are learning more than ever before that we are made to experience deep connection with each other and with nature.
While physically gathering with other people in our community will have to wait until after the danger of the pandemic is over, our connection with nature doesn't have to wait.
I hope that more people than ever before will be planting gardens in the year 2021 to connect with nature in a way that offers direct nourishment for our bodies.
Already we've seen a surge in the number of people finding connection with nature in forests and other wild places during this year of social distancing, and I doubt that it's just because of the temporary shut-down of other sources of entertainment. Maybe the shut-down in many cases has spurred the search for something new. I hope and pray that those who have taken their first steps onto a wooded path may have found a lifelong connection with nature. Our isolation from other people has awakened many of us to the necessity of nature connection.
"all flourishing is mutual."-Robin Wall Kimmerer
I've heard it said that God has gifted human beings with animals and plants; I respond that if that's true, then it's equally true that God has gifted the full diversity of animals, plants, and other forms of life with human beings. The truth is that any separation from nature is an illusion. Our well-being has always been directly dependent on the well-being of nature. Now that an awareness of our necessity of nature connection is being fostered in many ways and places, we should recognize that the plants and animals we get to share this good earth with are our neighbors. To quote from a book that I've enjoyed reading during my time in quarantine called Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer, "all flourishing is mutual."
What can you do to help someone else develop nature connection this week?