This summer, on our annual sojourn to India to visit family, my husband, two sons and I were fortunate to be able to escape the mad crush of Indian urban cities for a precious few days. We made our way through an eco-preserve, about 40 miles from the nearest city airport in South India, up 15 hair-pin bends in an often hair raising climb, to 2000 feet above sea level, to a “hill station.” The term “hill station” was coined during colonial times in India; the British spent summers here, respite from the humid lull of the plains.
What surprised me the most was my younger son’s sense of peace and belonging. My ipad-game-playing, checkers-challenging, superman-pretending 5 year old sat with us, and gazed at the view, poked at touch-me-knots, went eye to eye with local bovine, and picked up a few baby goats. That is all it took to keep him happy. Throughout our mini get away, I pondered the fragility of this little haven, and what it would take to sustain it for years to come.
Recent literature on the effect of nature deprivation on children and adults demonstrate how time outdoors can alleviate many of our modern day problems, ranging from anxiety to ADHD, and the health benefits of looking out the window. It also underscored the timeliness and importance of our theme for this year at UCS: Sustainability. We will be looking at the connection between our spirits and the natural world with monthly topics such as Abundance, Awe, and Legacy (to name just a few). There will be opportunities for learning, exploring, connecting and reflecting. You will hear much more about this theme in the weeks and months to come. For now, as the summer winds down and you prepare yourself and your children for the rush of the fall, I wish you a few moments of time spent outdoors; perhaps a half day at the beach, a stroll through changing woods, or even a glimpse of a sunset.