It is common knowledge to Mormons that when Christ and Heavenly Father appeared to Joseph Smith (the founder of the LDS church), he was in a wooded grove just outside his family’s farm. He was green, secluded nature. It was sacred, holy ground. It is known to us as the Sacred Grove.
Growing up, I always loved forests. From the time I was 10 until I graduated high school, I lived in Northern Virginia, surrounded by forests and streams. My family had a tradition of going camping to National Parks all over the nation. Typically these were forest invested national parks. I loved exploring our campsites and allowing my imagination to fill the forests. I felt at home there.
The greenery was the biggest thing I missed when my family moved to California and I went to Utah for college. I felt at home under the canopy of green trees, treading beaten dirt paths, listening to bubbling brooks, and I was afraid I wouldn’t have that in Utah.
One day, while living in Provo, Utah, on a random bike ride, I happened upon a secluded part of the Provo River–there were trees everywhere. It was very reminiscent of Virginia. I had found a home away from home. From then on, if I ever had a fight over the phone with my mom, or an argument with my husband, or if I was just overwhelmed with stress and anxiety, I would bike or drive over to my personal sacred grove. I would find a small rock hanging over the creek, under the shade of a tree, and just sit. I would close my eyes and just breathe. I allowed the sounds of nature to fill me with peace.
When we moved in with my parents, we lived near the green, Alpine mountains of the Wasatch Front. The temple we would attend sat in the middle of these, and as we drove up the hill, we would be blessed with a picturesque view of the mountainside covered in evergreens. It would always make my heart burst to see that.
In April, during the LDS General Conference, I was upset with my family and husband. I don’t remember why–it was probably pretty petty since I can’t remember. But, I excused myself, took the car, and started to drive up the mountain. That was one amazing plus that I had always loved about everywhere I lived in Utah–the breathtaking view of the valley below, especially at sunset. So, I drove up and up as far as I could go in the neighborhoods. I was listening to Conference on the radio as I drove, trying to bring the Spirit back to me. Out of the corner of my eye, I found an entrance to a trail. I immediately parked my car, turned Conference on my iPod, and started hiking up the trail.
It was probably the most spiritual experience I had ever had while listening to Conference. Instead of sitting in my pajamas, snacking with my family, lounging on a coach watching Conference in our living room, I was alone with Christ and His words, in the nature that He created. It was one of the most intimate, close experiences I’ve ever had with my Savior.
Before we moved to Texas, I made sure to go on a few trails with Rhys to begin to instill in him my love of nature. He loved running on the paths and throwing rocks and sticks into the streams. I just hope that I can find some lovely hidden, sacred groves here in Texas.
Moses 6:63 And behold, all things have their likeness, and all things are created and made to bear record of me, both things which are temporal, and things which are spiritual; things which are in the heavens above, and things which are on the earth, and things which are in the earth, and things which are under the earth, both above and beneath: all things bear record of me.
Abraham 5:9 And out of the ground made the Gods to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food; the tree of life, also, in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.
Isaiah 45:18 For thus saith the Lord that created the heavens; God himself that formed the earth and made it; he hath established it, he created it not in vain, he formed it to beinhabited: I am the Lord; and there is none else.
Alma 30:44 But Alma said unto him: Thou hast had signs enough; will ye tempt your God? Will ye say, Show unto me a sign, when ye have the testimony of all these thy brethren, and also all the holy prophets? The scriptures are laid before thee, yea, and all things denote there is a God; yea, even the earth, and all things that are upon the face of it, yea, and its motion, yea, and also all the planets which move in their regular form do witness that there is a Supreme Creator.
Tom Reese (Ensign, February 2013) The supreme beauty of the natural world reminds us of the power and perfection of God. When we are in nature, feelings of hope, peace, and reverence come to us through the Spirit. In nature we can see the handiwork of the perfect Artist. For centuries mankind has tried to emulate the handiwork of God. No human, however, has been able to match the perfect artistry of the Lord. Sometimes I wonder if God created the earth as He did to give us a small taste of what is in store for us in the future. If this earth can be so astoundingly beautiful, what must the renewed and perfected earth look like?
My Heavenly Father Loves Me (Children’s Song Book #228)
1. Whenever I hear the song of a bird
Or look at the blue, blue sky,
Whenever I feel the rain on my face
Or the wind as it rushes by,
Whenever I touch a velvet rose
Or walk by our lilac tree,
I’m glad that I live in this beautiful world
Heav’nly Father created for me.
2. He gave me my eyes that I might see
The color of butterfly wings.
He gave me my ears that I might hear
The magical sound of things.
He gave me my life, my mind, my heart:
I thank him rev’rently
For all his creations, of which I’m a part.
Yes, I know Heav’nly Father loves me.