Read the article 'Walking with God in nature’ and answer the following questions. Then share your answers in pairs, small groups or in a classroom discussion.
1. Peter Saunders begins his article with, ‘As Gerard Manley Hopkins wrote, ‘the world is charged with the grandeur of God’. But we sometimes need to get out of the city to really feel it.’ Do you agree with him? Why or why not?
2. Where do you feel God’s presence?
3. Do you spend much quiet time in nature? Where do you encounter nature in your everyday life?
4. How often are you silent without the distractions of mobile phones, tablets, computers or TVs?
5. Why do you think not talking at first on a silent nature walk could be difficult?
6. Our culture now has an obsession with sharing everywhere we go, everything we do, and everything we think with our friends and families through social media platforms. Although these platforms are powerful ways of bringing people together, they also create a lot of online chatter and even inner-mental chatter. Why do you think ‘unplugging’ and taking a quiet walk in nature could be good for all of us?
1. Why not take a walk with your family or friends in nature with the one rule that no one talks? It could be a short walk of 10 or 20 minutes or a longer walk, lasting an hour or two. After you could share about your experience.
2. Teachers could plan a silent walking trip with their class. It could be to a local trail or a nearby public park. Students would be asked to be silent for the duration of the walk. After, the class could write a reflection on their experience.
To prepare students for the walk, teachers may want to have the class pray together. See the list below for prayers and reflections for World Day of prayer for the care of creation.
Catholic Climate Movement: World day of prayer
Catholic Climate Movement: Creation prayer
A prayer for our Earth
Franciscan action: Guided rosary on caring for creation
Caretakers of God’s creation
Catholic Earth Care: A prayer for our Earth
Justice and Peace Office: World day of prayer for the care of creation
3. After reflecting on God’s presence in nature, teachers can lead students outside on the school grounds and invite students to write a poem about God’s presence in nature.
For younger students
Teachers can read or summarise the article, ‘Walking with God in nature’ for their students. Then, lead a classroom discussion on why we may feel God’s presence more in nature than in cities or suburbs. Teachers can ask students where they feel God.
1. Teachers can take their class on a nature walk field trip asking students to not talk through the whole experience. At the end, students can share their experiences.
2. Teachers can lead students out to the playground where there are trees and birds singing. Once outside, students can reflect on where God is in nature.
3. Students can draw a picture of where they find God in nature.