“In all things of nature, there is something of the marvelous.” -Aristotle
On any given Saturday our family is likely sauntering through the more remote parts of our state in pursuit of a waterfall.
Tim Ernst’s, Arkansas Waterfalls, book tucked into my daypack provides the guidance and maps we need for our journey.
One of the first pages of this guidebook issues the warning, “Visiting waterfalls may be hazardous to your health! By their very nature and location waterfalls can be dangerous to be around. There are many hazards that can cause accidents, resulting in serious injury or death.” Not exactly what this overly anxious mama wants to read before adventuring with her crew of six kids, including four very daring boys and an equally intrepid husband. And yet, this has become a cherished activity for our family despite the inherent risks and dangers.
Pope St. John Paul once commented that
“The aesthetic value of creation cannot be overlooked. Our very contact with nature has a deep restorative power; contemplation of its magnificence imparts peace and serenity. The Bible speaks again and again of the goodness and beauty of creation, which is called to glorify God.”
It seems to me that there are some joys in life that are worth taking a risk to experience. The beauties of God’s natural creation is one such thing.
However, experiencing the beauty of God’s creation is not just about standing in awe before some natural wonder. The journey to get there is also of great value. Many theological and philosophical discussions have ensued en route to a waterfall. We have addressed the origins of life and the mysteries of death. We have sung songs and laughed at jokes. We have shared our hearts with all their worries and joys.
We have made memories with every step.
Finally, at trail’s end we gaze and contemplate the magnificence of God’s handiwork. Though, let’s be honest, sometimes we lament together when we arrive at the end only to find a trickle of water in place of a roaring torrent. Whatever the status of the waterfall, we often end our journey with gratitude and thanksgiving, and refuel our bodies with lunch or a snack. Our adventures in the woods are never in vain as they provide an opportunity to commune not only with one another, but also with our Creator through the beauty of solitude.
These hikes also provide the needed time to explore and play together as a family.
Living in a society that seems to be obsessed with productivity and busyness, taking time to disconnect and explore provides an unique opportunity to rest even while remaining physically active. Exploring our natural surroundings has imparted the perfect opportunity for our family to reset and be more present to one another.
I don’t know where you live, but I believe that the beauty of nature surrounds each of us. Take some time to research the local guidebooks that may be available to you and go in search of magnificent things. Your library is a wonderful place to start. Simply seek out the local travel books, and be prepared for a world of adventure to open before you!
If you are a citizen of The Natural State, Arkansas, I cannot recommend the Tim Ernst books enough.
He has written extensively on the beauty of this state and offers a multitude of trails, swimming holes, and waterfalls to be explored. All of his books include options for people of all ages and hiking abilities. Be brave, go explore, and let the beauty of nature restore your body, mind and soul as it points you to the Divine Creator!