A flock of clouds decorated the baby-blue sky while covering the peak of a mighty mountain. The sun settled just above the horizon but its light turned dim as clouds gathered around it – resembling an evening twilight. The temperature of the atmosphere was just right: chilly but cozy enough to turn any tired minds off to dreamland. At the base of the mountain, the smooth green valleys were surrounded by trees and there was a network of streams seeping through them.
The streams gradually met at a point: a jewel-blue river swerving through the clean lush forest that sprung over some boulders along its way. Some people say ‘rivers are like arteries of the forest’ – a road for a lost nature trekker. But these rivers were not like any other; when drunken from it, one would feel rejuvenated due to its heavenly purity. The murmuring river was accompanied by joyful singing birds and a distant sound of creaking branched from the ancient trees.
Everything about this place would make any person nostalgic and serene.
“Do you not see that Allah sends down rain from the sky and makes it flow as springs [and rivers] in the earth; then He produces thereby crops of varying colours; then they dry and you see them turned yellow; then He makes them [scattered] debris. Indeed in that is a reminder for those of understanding.” (Surah Az-Zumar:21)
My mind wandered into a trance state but was suddenly woken up by an abrupt silence. I looked at my phone and it was already 12 am. I tossed and turned in bed, hoping that my mind would let my soul sleep. My body felt tired but I could feel my head pounding. I replayed my music list filled with nature sounds and hoped for the second time that I would finally fall asleep.
My mind drifted away into a familiar scene with a group of people who I wasn’t sure I’d met before. They walked away with a smile as we concluded our conversation. I’ve been to this place; it looks exactly like the place I’d imagined, but even better. I felt comfortable and belonged to this place. While walking along the river banks, I saw a dry ditch; I settled down and paused to appreciate the beauty around me. I hadn’t done this for a while… A shaft of light glistened the river surface and I was tempted to put my hands in it. It was cold and refreshing. In that dimension, I didn’t care about time; I lived in the moment.
“And He has cast into the earth firmly set mountains, lest it shift with you, and [made] rivers and roads, that you may be guided,” (Surah An-Nahl:15)
But just like any good thing in this world, it had to come to an end.
A loud blaring noise disrupted my peace and crippled my thoughts for a while – what was real and what was not? My fingers automatically clicked the snooze button while I was telling myself “Just 5 more minutes… and I’m up”. After a few clicks of the snooze button, the fear of missing fajr overwhelmed my body and with my eyes half-open, I made my way to the bathroom. Time passed by quickly as I went through my routine and in the heat of a moment, I sat down and paused. My head was still pounding; I still felt tired even if I had a full night’s sleep.
‘How can a nature-loving person go day by day without admiring the creations of God – even if it is just looking out the window? ‘
‘How is that you read the Quran, but never ponder upon it?’
‘When was the last time you sat down away from distractions and just breathe? You used to hike a lot.’
My mind, body and soul were out of balance. I prayed but I didn’t take care of my body and health. I read the Quran but didn’t ponder upon it. How did I expect it to nourish my soul when I was distracted? I had spent way too much time indoors and in front of my laptop.
It was 3 pm during Spring time. I still had a chance to reconcile; I put on my sports shoes, strolled to the nearest park and indulged in the nature around me. They were not half as good as my imagination and dream but the fresh air and the earthy aroma still calmed my soul. That’s the thing about nature: no matter how many times you go to the same place, the impact is still the same.
I took my picnic mat and Quran out, placed the former on the ground, sat down and turned a page of the Quran.
“The righteous (will be) amid Gardens and fountains (of clear-flowing water). (Their greeting will be): “Enter ye here in Peace and Security.” And We shall remove from their hearts any lurking sense of injury: (they will be) brothers (joyfully) facing each other on thrones (of dignity). There no sense of fatigue shall touch them nor shall they (ever) be asked to leave.” [Surah Al-Hijr: 45-48]
Nature to me, is a glimpse of paradise. There can’t be anything in the world that resembles the power of nature to destress and emotionally heal us. It’s a gift from God. It’s something that we tend to forget especially in a world that functions around internet and electronic devices. Sadly, it’s also something that people destroy just to be the most developed country in the world.
With a lot of reflections and mind-resting verses from the Quran, my soul felt nourished in the end. With renewed faith, I ended the day with gratitude to God for making me feel deprived as that was one of the only ways for me to stop damaging my body and health. Apparently, that was all I needed: nature and the Quran.