Love in Nature

Love in Nature

As parents, one of the greatest gifts we can give our children is a love for and time in nature. Since moving to Japan, we’ve become attuned to the seasons based around the things we can gather and catch. Summer is long-awaited, and despite the abundance of mosquitoes, we look forward to the season as a time of beetle and cicada catching. In the fall, we look forward to gathering acorns and gingko leaves to turn into crafts and toys to proudly display on our shelves. In spring we go crabbing and in late summer we look for crayfish. And of course, in winter we dream of the advent of spring, all the while hoping for a rare glimpse of snow. In nature, we see the natural rhythms and patterns of life. There are no “social constructs” or of “conditioning.” Nature is what it is; nature makes no excuses, there is no room for debate. It is this kind of classroom that we want our children to learn the “bigger picture” and to see, experience and interact with the “laws of nature and of nature’s God.” It is in the natural world that we can seek out facets of the “Divine image” and to understand that we are a part of a larger ecosystem. In nature, everything has its place and role. It is where we might learn that the most harmful behavior is the kind that does not understand its place. The “invasive species” that live and eat without regard to its surrounding environment creates a blight that must be addressed. We can also see how it’s in the spaces where air and water aren’t able to flow and bring in change that things grow rotten.

The family explores the outdoor environment

Change and movement allow for growth. And, there is beauty in knowing how the smallest mosquitoes and even the microscopic bacteria underfoot contribute to the entire ecosystem. It is because of this understanding that many of the FPA programs are designed in God’s greatest classroom, nature. It is here that things are not directly taught but rather become understood through observation and experience. Whatever the season, parents can cultivate a love of nature in their children, through books, songs, stories but above all, through giving them the gift of experiences in nature. Creating Healthy Family Habits: Seeking Truth in Nature The steps to this activity are really very simple.
  • First, plan out time for your family to take some time in nature. The setting doesn’t matter so long as it is in nature – the forest, a beach, a field – somewhere you can ‘study’ nature. The purpose of this time is one in which we seek out reflections of the “Divine Image” in nature.
  • Take something for each person to take personal notes, questions, sketches, etc. While it’s fine to talk as you go along, you want to make sure that you don’t lose focus on the activity of investigating.
  • Some general themes to observe:
    • Nature crafts inspired from a family trip.

      What does nature need to grow?
    • What limits growth?
    • What are the different stages of growth?
    • What is the general dynamic of life in an ecosystem?
    • Did you observe important roles each species plays in the ecosystem?
    • Did you observe instances where the energy did not flow (air, water) – what did that look like?
    • If or when you observe “invasive species” – what are the qualities that make them invasive in that ecosystem?
  • Then, to wrap up you want to take some time to share with one another your observations and questions. What patterns did you see?
This might be a bit awkward in the beginning and we encourage you to try it in different ways until it starts to feel more natural. For some people, it is like training a muscle and we need time and consistency to see or feel results. It will also take time to be able to draw lines of connection between observations made about nature and the laws that govern nature and the laws that govern the human world. These types of shared experiences together as a family are important as they set a basis for which to later explain lessons from the natural world to our spiritual lives. The more we engage and learn to share and explore with one another about life, universal laws, growth and nature the easier it becomes to share on anything and everything else. We encourage you to treasure these moments and make efforts to make it a central part of your lives together as a family.

Father and daughter spend quality time together in nature

For all these reasons and more, this is an activity that can be repeated without end. In fact, all of the activities we include in this book is of that nature. And every time the activity is done, a new layer of knowledge, consciousness, skill, etc. is added – we ourselves have become different. In that way, every time we do an activity, in some sense we are different people from those who did the activity before! This activity can be applied to many ages, including teens and older. Experience in nature can help detach from the distractions of life and connect to the divine.
What Is Your God-given Destiny?

What Is Your God-given Destiny?

The 12-14 year-old Core Values Academy class in Seattle, Washington spent the 2017 academic year exploring their  identity and destiny.

In May, the class and their mentors completed an overnight hike to Talapus Lake in Washington. “The purpose of our hike is to reflect and ponder about our God-given destiny as we lay under the stars. Each person has a unique way through which he or she can contribute to God’s work,” said Kenshu Aoki.

The class worked together to prepare for the hike: creating a list of essentials, assigning responsibilities and checking their equipment. They trekked through snow-covered trails, set up camp in the snow banks, built a campfire, and prepared their meals. The clear skies allowed them the opportunity to think about their relationship with God and their role in His work.

Nature is one of the best environments for our spiritual growth. In nature we can discover who we are, challenge our limitations, and reaffirm the purpose and values of our lives.

Why don’t you take a moment in nature to think about your God-given destiny. Share with us what you discover in the comments below.

Lessons in Nature on Loving Our Family

Lessons in Nature on Loving Our Family

 

Jin is the youngest brother of three boys. He doesn’t have any sisters or younger siblings. So the 3 mile hike along Rattlesnake Ridge was a special experience.

The objective of the challenging hike was to practice being a good sibling. The hikers, who were between 8-13 years old, were paired up as “siblings.” Jin was paired to a younger “sister”, a relationship he doesn’t get to try every day in his family. During the hike, the pairs were given tasks that encouraged them to consider the needs of their “sibling”.

For example, each sibling pair was allowed only one backpack. They had to share the responsibility of carrying the backpacks and also figure out how to coordinate water and snack breaks, because everything was in the shared backpack.

The hike started out in a cold spring rain which turned to snow near the top of the ridge. The total elevation gain was 3,481 feet. The shared challenge bonded the teams and made the best of the sibling pairs shine.

Jin made sure his “sister” stayed dry and hydrated. The pairs also found ways to encourage each other. Some pairs started games for everyone to play, making the hike fun. Others made it a point to smile and point out milestones along the way. One sibling pair, who are really siblings, joked at the end of the hike that they didn’t exchange any insults along the way.

core values academy new york & new jersey

The hike was an activity of the Core Values Academy, a weekly gathering hosted by local Family Peace Association chapters to support families in teaching important values and character traits to their children.

Outdoor challenge activities with a learning goal are great ways for families to zoom in on different areas of their relationships and character development. The shared challenge helps naturally build teamwork and relationships. The natural environment provides a classroom that can teach important lessons about God and the principles that govern His creation.

Would you like to try one with your family?

Here are some ideas:

  • Take a hike together as a family.
  • Go to the park and play a simple game of sports.
  • Go fishing together.
  • Talk a walk in the woods.

With each activity go through the following steps:

  • Before you start the activity ask every member set a goal that focuses on a particular relationship that they would like to develop. (Ex: Connect to God, Talk with mom, Respect dad, Think of my brother)
  • Plan 1-3 activities that will help remind the family about their goals. Some examples: During the hike, make one of the rest stops quiet time to observe nature and think about their goal. During the soccer game, make each person do one thing that will help accomplish their goal. At the middle point, verbally recite your goals to each other. At the end of the hike get some ice cream and reflect on the lessons learned. Make sure to write them down!