Summer is the prime season for exploring nature in Michigan. Yes, I know, there’s lots to explore in the winter, but let’s be honest, most outdoor adventures in the Mitten state happen in the warmth of summer. And man, there’s so much to explore! This state is FILLED with incredible waterfalls, trails, rivers, and (great) lakes. (And let’s not forget my favorite, summer rain storms). How can someone be bored here?

When I explore nature, when I connect with the great outdoors, something special happens. I see the beauty of the world and am compelled to respond. The unique beauties of nature are amazing and often majestic. It traps me, pulls me in, anchors my soul. The natural world reminds me of what it means to simply be; to live as I am created. 

There’s an intense sense of awe when enjoying a beautiful sunset over Lake Michigan or watching a summer rainstorm roll in. A few years ago when I was visiting Ireland I had the opportunity to explore the cliffs of Moher. I remember sitting on a rock looking out over the landscape and into the offing and being struck by the indescribable beauty before me. How was I so fortunate to capture a glimpse of such a wonder? The crazy thing, the view was awe inspiring by not doing anything except existing! It was inherently magnificent. 

As I go on camping adventures or day hikes along the coast or runs through my neighborhood I am reminded that it’s not just stunning cliffs that inspire but the wild flowers, the waves, and the birds that do too. Even the smallest bit of natural beauty compels a response.

Can you imagine that, being stunning and inspiring awe just by existing? Maybe we should follow nature’s lead and stop trying to be something other than ourselves. We are part of creation and we are inherently magnificent. We are beautiful simply by being who we were created to be. There’s this incredible woman, St. Catherine of Siena, who once said, “Be who God created you to be and you will set the world on fire.” Let’s do that. Let’s be who we were created to be; the poet, the visionary, the parent, the counselor, the creative, the friend. Let’s start now and see what happens.