There is a place where the trees breathe wind and the skies bring nourishing rain. There is a place where rivers supply food and flowers spout bursts of joy. There is a place that was created with love and beauty and a pulse. If you’ve seen Avatar lately you may be dreaming about the planet of Pandora, but I’m describing the very dirt on which you stand.

When I was younger my siblings and I practically lived in the forest behind our house. We built forts, climbed trees and unblocked the stream after storms. We only came in at the call of dinner from my mother, a woman who grew up learning from the woods and was sure that we were safe doing the same. We would run home through our self-made trails dirty and scratched, all from a good day’s work. Yes, we played video games and “house”, but we also had mud ball fights. There were also the days when we kayaked on the lake nearby. I remember being both frightened and intrigued by the lily pads at the end of the lake surrounded by a small inlet with hanging trees and sparkling silence. I built a connection with nature at a young age, and had a lot of fun doing so.

When I think about the environment today I hope that we don’t forget the beauty and connection we instinctively have with nature, God created this Earth to be cherished and enjoyed. My reaction, however, is my own realization that I must start thinking about that nature when I think about “environmentalism”. There are lots of lenses through which people connect with an environmental cause – global warming, climate change, save the whales, hunting & fishing rights, organic agriculture, protecting national forests and habitats, endangered species…whatever way that you look at the environment around us, thank you for caring. A need to reconnect with the environmental movement on a very personal and real level has been brewing in me for awhile. You might even call it a spiritual necessity.

Outside my window trees sway, rain falls and in the spring time flowers will bloom. The Pacific Northwest is my backyard. I love barbecues with fresh caught wild salmon and picking my own pumpkins for Halloween. I smile when I see the little trees popping up all over a clear-cut thanks to renewable forestry, and when I see an advertisement for Harbor 100 – a carbon neutral, 100 percent recycled paper product. I breathe deeply when I visit our temperate rainforest and when I step outside after a nourishing spring rain. My favorite place on Earth is this tiny tulip and daffodil bulb farm 20 minutes from my house – you could make anywhere beautiful with a few bunches of their fresh cut perfection. Each of these things makes my life happy and full. While I’m glad that environmentalism through climate change is being addressed worldwide, I think it’s also so important to remember what feeds the soul right where we are. For me, remembering that God created this world is the most influential environmental lobby I can think of. I think of our interconnection with the resources of the earth – food, shelter, water, joy and peace can all be found in the nature and wildlife that surround us. I can’t imagine giving away the earth for prosperity, indeed there is no such thing as prosperity without our natural environment.

Reduce. Reuse. Recycle. Feed your soul.