Creative Reflection through Nature Corner

This Creative Reflection Through Nature Corner is a place where a family, student, or educator can share that spark of creativity expressed in the visual arts, creative writing, or poetry that was inspired by encounters in nature.

Share that creative spark here.  Maybe it is something done recently, in the past, on your own, with your students, or with your family.  Please send to so she can post it.  Make sure you have permission from the artist before sending it by email and it is copyright free.  Thank you!

Title:  Sycamore Tree Haunting - by Aidan and Jan  - 4-21-11

A reflection piece done in tempera on canvas after a reading of The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein and small hike at Yankauer Nature Perserve in Shepherdstown, WV.

Experiencing Nature's Peace - By Greg Traymar

Several months ago I was asked to lead a group of Chinese girls in some Sharing Nature activities here at the Expanding Light. The girls didn’t speak English so well and I thought that I would simply take them for a walk up to our Sunset Ridge. As I observed them the next couple of days before the walk, I noticed how much time they spent with their ipods and cameras. I decided that I needed to spice their walk about a bit, so their experience wouldn’t be so…distracting! Before we approached the ridge where the sunset could be seen, I blindfolded them and lead them along a stringed trail. For several minutes they slowly followed the string in silence. When the lighting was just right, I had them take off their blindfolds. As they did, they all gasped and then continued their silence. As I watched their faces, I was thrilled by their enjoyment and then realized that were REALLY enjoying it, more than I thought they would. Their teacher then commented to me that for most of these girls this was the first sunset they had ever seen due to the air pollution from their hometown in China.

Just as these girls seemed to be in a sort of breathless awe at the beauty before them, we too must make our experiences just as profound. For so many people, nature is a place of retreat, rejuvenation and relaxation. Even something as common as a sunset never seems to stop thrilling our hearts. The more we can be open and receptive, the more that nature’s peace can flood our being.

Richard St. Barbe Baker, a man who was responsible for the planting of some 26 trillion trees, had an experience in the forest when he was five that changed his life forever.
“It was here that young Richard had a mystical experience. He felt united with all of creation. There was no separation, only oneness. He was alone, but felt deeply connected to all of the living creatures he loved so dearly. He was lost, but felt only bliss.”

While these types of experiences might come more naturally for some, all too often our minds are busy in the daily demands of life. Henry David Thoreau was once walking from his home in Concord into the woods with his mind the whole time on his pencil business. When he realized where his mind was, he turned around and started his walk anew, this time his mind on nature.

When our minds and hearts are calm, not only do we feel more inner peace and joy, but we are then able to experience those qualities reflected more fully in nature. As Paramhansa Yogananda so clearly illustrates; the image of the moon looks distorted if it is reflected in a stormy lake full of ripples, but if the storm subsides, the waves vanish and the clear, undisturbed reflection of the moon is seen.

Meditation techniques and nature activities are wonderful in helping to calm “the stormy lake of our minds” so that we can experience nature’s peace more fully. I have found from my own experience that nature’s calmness helps my meditations and my meditations help my enjoyment of nature.

Here is an activity from Joseph Bharat Cornell, whose Sharing Nature book series have helped hundreds of thousands of people around the world have profound experiences of nature.

I Am the Mountain
This exercise will help you internalize your awareness and experience a feeling of unity with nature. To begin, look for a place outdoors where it is beautiful; if this isn’t possible revisit such a place in your mind and use your imagination.

How the exercise works when done alone:

Quietly repeat the words I Am. After each time you say I Am, look for something in nature that captivates you—perhaps a cloud sailing across the sky or the wind playing music in the forest. Whatever it is, feel its living reality inside of you. Enjoy it there for a few moments, and then quietly whisper a simple word or phrase that describes your experience of what you were observing. For example, it may go like this:

I Am……..the drifting cloud……..I Am……..the waving branches……I Am……..the exhilaration of the wind racing across the lake
After a while, you can substitute phrases like I Love or I Receive for I Am, as in…I
Love……….the serenity I feel....I Love……………the blue flowers....I Receive………….a wonderful joy in my heart
Repeat I Am, I Love and/or I Receive for five minutes then relax and enjoy the serenity of nature within and all around you. Feel a sense of communion with everything you see.

One Blossom
I want to share one of my favorite poems by Shel Silverstein that reminds me to always listen to the language of nature.  - Jan Hummer

Forgotten Language by Shel Silverstein
Once I spoke the language of the flowers,
Once I understood each word the caterpillar said,
Once I smiled in secret at the gossip of the starlings,
And shared a conversation with the housefly
in my bed.
Once I heard and answered all the questions
of the crickets,
And joined the crying of each falling dying flake of snow,
Once I spoke the language of the flowers. . . .
How did it go?
How did it go?

Shel Silverstein website

Check out the NCTC's Rachel Carson Exhibit Headed to Pittsburgh Home a great family activity if you are in the area this summer.

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