By Alyson Eversman
I love nature and I love being outside. It’s where I feel God the most, the place I feel the most comfortable, and it’s the area God challenges me the most in. So, I try to be outside as much as I can, whether it’s walking the long way around campus, hammocking, “hiking” the Puddle Jumper, or just wandering around with no destination. For me, being outside allows me to clear my mind, to think, and to encounter the Creator.
Throughout this past summer, I heard the term “prairie remnant” frequently, always being reminded that Iowa only has less than one-tenth of one percent (.001%) of these natural areas remaining. Iowa is the most altered state in the nation. For those who don’t know, a “prairie remnant” is a grassland that, to some extent, remains undisturbed by European settlement. Thanks to my internship with the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation, I was able to work on some of these remnants of Iowa, witnessing all the biodiversity they contain and observe some more rare prairie species such as hoary puccoon, green milkweed, and silver-leaf scurf-pea. It was such a gift to work on so many remnant acres of gorgeous land.
And it was on these prairie residues that I gained a deeper reverence for God’s creation. My heart honestly did a summersault when I realized the pieces of land that I was working on have not been disturbed since God allowed the prairies to form. The thought gave me goosebumps too because I was wandering through God’s raw, undisturbed beauty, observing the native herbaceous plants, grasses, and animals residing there.
That realization has made me want to know more about the species living on the prairie remnants – the plants’ common names and their Latin ones too, the bird species behind the songs I heard, as well as the mammals hiding because of my presence. Through understanding a plant or animal’s uniqueness (as humans do when they meet someone new) or the individual impact on their specific ecosystem, I can learn more about the awesomeness of God as well as His loving personality. Overall, I yearn to draw closer to God through His creation – an exquisite perspective of God that people tend to forget about.
Furthermore, as an Ecological Science major, I’m required to familiarize myself with the environment, but I think as Christians this needs to become a necessity. For how can we fully care for God’s creation if we do not understand or grasp how to take care of it?
In my opinion, creation is one kind of gateway to God, that we, as stewards, can open every single day. For me, with the help of creation, I have discovered God in a new light by noticing His handiwork throughout nature; and thus, by caring more about it, I believe that I am glorifying Him for it.