- This resource was written by Andy Dye of the Global Relationships Team of the Methodist Connexion for the Season of Creation 2021
- This work may be shared freely, with attribution, without modification
This activity is suitable for all ages, and could be used by a family, a youth group or as an in‑person, online or hybrid church activity.
‘Nature sensing’ is a prayerful and playful activity to raise our perception of nature and develop our wonder at God’s creation. It’s much better done outdoors, in a park or a woodland, but it can equally be done by collecting some materials in a tarpaulin and bringing them into a building.
- If you are running the activity outdoors, do make sure that you have made a risk assessment and considered accessibility.
- If you are collecting materials to bring indoors, be careful of dog poo!
- For indoors, you will want to collect a range of natural materials, leaves, sticks, etc. Be careful not to damage any wildlife or plants, although you may want to bring cuttings from your garden.
- If running this activity online, you might want to encourage people to gather something from the garden or park in advance, or use a houseplant or another natural material from around the home.
- In your church, lay out the materials or gather in a natural setting. Try to make it possible for everyone to at least glimpse some of the natural materials.
We are going to focus our attention on God’s creation and take time to wonder. This is a time of play and a time of prayer. We will use our senses of sight, touch, hearing and smell, but no tasting even if you think you know the plant, seed or fruit (although perhaps there’ll be time for a biscuit or cake afterwards!). Adults will need to supervise small children.
(Adjust for those who may have restricted or no eyesight, hearing, movement, etc.)
First of all, we will use our focused eyes.
Invite the congregation to focus their eyes like a bird of prey on the materials. Use these questions to focus their thoughts:
- What can you see from far away?
- What are the colours?
- What differences can you see?
- What particular parts draw your eyes?
Second, we will use our sensitive touch.
Invite the group members to choose a leaf, stick, nut, etc. to hold. If outside, they can approach a nearby tree or plant. Invite everyone to touch and move the item in their hands.
- Is it smooth, rough, hairy or spiky?
- Close your eyes and turn the item in your hands – can you tell the different sides apart?
- Is it sticky or soft?
Thirdly, we will use our tuned ears.
Listen to the sound it makes as you move it in your hands or wave it in the air.
- Does it crackle, swish or stay silent?
- Does it sound like you expected it to?
Fourthly, we will snuffle and smell!
Gently sniff at the object. Close your eyes.
- What does it remind you of? A certain place or a certain time?
- Is it fresh or a bit gone-off?
- Does it remind you of newness and growth, or of decay and the recycling of nutrients?
Almighty Creator God,
You are forever connected with your creation through Jesus.
Thank you that, through our senses, we can reach out and connect with you through your creation.
We wonder at the colour, sounds, smell and feel of everything you have made and remember that you have made us too.
We are part of your wonderful creation, connected to Jesus and shaped by your love.
End the activity by quietly returning all the materials. Have eco-friendly wipes or simply a bowl of water and towel (supervised) available for those who need it. Or direct people to wash their hands directly after the service.