In the Name of God, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful

“He is the One Who spread out the earth and placed thereon mountains and rivers, created fruits of every kind in pairs, two and two and makes the night cover the day. Certainly, in these things, there are signs for those who reflect.”

(Qur’an 13:3)

There is absolutely nothing comparable to the feeling one gets when walking through “de bush” (i.e. a forested area, a nature reserve or trail, through the mountains… etc. etc.). Some call it connecting with nature, some use the bush to “find their centre”, my father asks… “when last have you grounded off?” However we wish to label it there is no denying that something special happens when we immerse ourselves in the natural environment, whether we are willing for it to happen or even conscious that it is happening.

There have been many books written on the topic of nature and its benefits and importance to human well-being. In one particular book, “The Nature Principle: Human Restoration and the End of Nature-Deficit Disorder” (2012), by Richard Louv, he discusses the many ways in which psychological, physiological and spiritual problems are as a result of our lack of connection to nature and describes a future that is:

“.…shaped by what (he calls) the Nature Principle, an amalgamation of converging theories and trends as well as a reconciliation with old truths. This particular principle holds that a reconnection to the natural world is fundamental to human health, well-being, spirit and survival.” p.3

He goes on to say that:

Today, the long-held belief that nature has a direct positive impact on human health is making the transition from theory to evidence and from evidence to action. Certain findings have become so convincing that some mainstream healthcare providers and organisations have begun to promote nature therapy for an array of illnesses and for disease prevention. And many of us, without having and name for it are using the nature tonic. We are, in essence, self-medicating with an inexpensive and unusually convenient drug substitute. Let’s call it vitamin N – for Nature.” p.46

In the Holy Qur’an, nature and natural phenomenon are mentioned hundreds of times and most times in reference to their existence and workings as signs of the power and mercy of the Almighty. It is through these verses we can begin to appreciate our spiritual connections to the earth.

Here is an example of such from the Surah An-Nahl (The Bees):

In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful

“He it is who sends down water from the heaven for you, it gives drink, and by it (grows) the trees upon which you pasture. He causes to grow for you thereby herbage, and the olives and the palm trees, and the grapes and of all the fruits. Indeed, in that is a sign for a people who give thought” (16:10 – 11)

In addition to the health benefits and spiritual grounding that we get from breathing in fresh air and surrounding ourselves/ contemplating on animals and plants; a recent bush visit increased the oxygen flow to my brain and had me thinking about what else our interactions with nature can give us that could possibly benefit us in our regular, normally natureless lives. So I came up some “Bush Rules for Life” that I thought I would share.

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1. Beauty is often found in the details.

 

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2. Move with a purpose. Map your route and stick to the plan as much as possible.

 

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3. Pack light. Take only what you absolutely need. The rest are just frills that often hinder your progress and purpose.

 

 

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4. If you leave your fruits unattended they will disease and die. Take care of the blessings, talents and gifts that you have been given.

 

 

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5. The most unfamiliar sights are the ones that often bring the most beauty and wonder. Don’t be afraid of what you don’t know. Be curious or inquisitive, but never hateful or despising.

 

 

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6. Do not harm the innocent.

 

 

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7. Someone planted a seed that is now a tree with roots running deep, someone cut a trail or laid the foundation on which you now stand. Be grateful.

 

 

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8. When you gain knowledge, share with others. When you are inspired, inspire others.

 

 

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9. Know when it’s time to stop and rest. Know when it’s time to gaze through the bamboo at the blue sky and then down at the dry leaves and thank the One who created you.

 

 

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10. You will encounter beauty that you will never possess, enjoy the moments and leave with your pockets empty but your heart full.

A Bush Poem

He took the rain and made rivers

I shivered but never wavered

Watched as He lovingly placed

Dew drops on palm fronds

And on my eyelashes

To make me see the hummingbirds better

They come and they go

Mistily, mysteriously

Like the mountaintops behind pregnant clouds

The memories…

I used to take the leaves

And weave baskets

For my treacheries

Oh how I tried to keep the sunlight for us alone

Oh how I wanted the trees to give us alone all the fruit

When the dogs trespassed I wished them death

They come and they go

Infused with blood and broken promises

Dead birds everywhere

In my dreams

And Zangees it would seem…

Looking for lost lovers would kiss my toes instead

We used to laugh so hard together

We chased the little fish away

The echoes would steal my sadness away too

When the river dried up

I took the pain and made poetry

Nimah Muwakil, Bush Poet

Photographed by Kibwe Brathwaite
Photographed by Kibwe Brathwaite

In the Name of God, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful

“Do they not see the birds above them with wings outspread and [sometimes] folded in? None holds them [aloft] except the Most Merciful. Indeed He is, of all things, Seeing. (Qur’an 67:19)