On a hot August day in 1959, I sat cramped in the back seat of our Thunderbird between suitcases, pillows and my annoying 13-year-old brother for what seemed like the longest trip of my life. Amid melting crayons, half-eaten sandwiches and bouts of car-sickness, I whined for most of the eight hours it took to get to our destination.
But the moment we drove up to our little cabin, nestled among pine trees and within walking distance of Cape Cod Bay, my attitude changed.
For the next two weeks, I spent every waking moment running up and down the sand dunes, building castles on the beach and finding all sorts of magical things, like starfish and sea glass, in the sand at low tide.
Most of us have memories of a special place in nature that we hold dear: a mountain where we hiked or camped, a summer cabin on a lake, a beach where we played with our children or grandchildren. As children, we often appreciate the majesty of the natural world before we can articulate the concept. As adults, many of us find something in nature that inspires deep, spiritual feelings and emotions — moving us toward a closer understanding of what G-d is or might mean to us.
I once read a quote by the great American architect Frank Lloyd Wright that expresses my feelings about the connection between G-d and nature: “Nature is the body of G-d and it’s the closest we’re going to get to the Creator in this life.” Being in nature is, in a sense, like inhabiting the essence of G-d. So it is easy to understand why so many of us feel spiritually alive when we are surrounded by natural beauty.