You may have been so cooped up by COVID for the last few months that you have forgotten what it feels like to admire and explore the splendor of nature. Without the millstone of a mask, jump in your car and travel to the nearest national park site. You’ll likely have all your senses come to attention: your eyes will see the beauty of nature, your ears will hear the rhythm of wildlife, and your heart will sense the majesty of Divine creation.

The U.S. National Park System encompasses 423 national park sites that span more than 84 million acres. There are parks in each state and Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, American Samoa, and Guam. According to the National Park’s website, “They include landscapes and historical narratives within areas that interpret our nation’s past, and cultural and recreation areas that stretch our minds and bodies to learn and do more.”

Nature can provide a soul-soothing mind-calming heart healing experience that no person, book, or event can do – if you STOP, LOOK, and LISTEN.

A quiet moment with nature says STOP. Stop talking. Stop gawking at your cellphone. Stop thinking about what “must get done.” Stop the merry-go-round of an angry, lonely, and confused culture.

A national park will help you stop. You can’t drive fast through Rocky Mountain National Park or see all the Grand Canyon in an afternoon. To see even a portion takes time. When you stop, your soul speaks, your body heals, your mind rests, your relationships renew, and your dreams refocus.

A quiet moment with nature says LOOK. Many years ago (when it was still allowed), a private pilot flew me down into the Grand Canyon. I saw a completely different perspective; I saw the magnificence of God’s creative genius. Architect Frank Lloyd Wright recognized this genius too when he said, “I believe in God, only I spell it Nature.”

It takes time and effort to stop and look because today’s world is in such a hurry. A national park is a great place to look, but you can take some time each day to admire the beauty of a sunset, the loveliness of a flower, or the innocent smile of a child.

A quiet moment with nature says LISTEN. Stand among the giant redwoods of Sequoia National Park, and what do you hear? Silence. It’s a silence that can’t be experienced with a binging cellphone in hand or a roaring expressway nearby. Though you may not live near the redwoods in California, trees are everywhere. You can drive to the nearest state or national park, find a secluded spot, sit quietly, and appreciate the sound of silence – the quiet tones of nature.

I know you’re busy. Hurry and mow the grass; hurry and clean the house; hurry and take the kids somewhere. But hurry doesn’t always get you where you want to go. MOPS blogger Tasha Levert writes, “Hurry betrays us every time. Hurry is the alarm that interrupts our rest. Hurry is the thief that steals our joy. Hurry is the distraction that hides our purpose.”

STOP, LOOK, and LISTEN for beauty, calm, and order in a nearby national park – or create your own private island in the midst of increasing chaos. Albert Einstein said, “Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.”