Connecting to God through Nature

Dr. Joel Ying, MD

Physician, Educator, Storyteller. He hosts this website for "Living the Present Moment" as a conscious journey of Body, Mind, Emotion & Spirit. Holistic and integrative, his practice includes Tai Chi and Yoga, Craniosacral Therapy, Healing From the Core, Meditation. Always exploring his edges, he shares them in the blog, newsletter, courses, and online study group.

Latest posts by Dr. Joel Ying, MD (see all)

As I hiked up the Sacred Valley of the Incas to Machu Picchu, the backpack full of snacks and clothes got heavier and heavier. My shoulders ached. I started to eat the snacks, just to lighten the load. Oranges seemed like a good idea at the start of this trip, but now they just felt like dead weight. The heavy hiking boots weighed my feed down as I trudged up the mountain. We had only just started several hours ago on this 3 day, 4 night trek. My shoulders ached from the pack. I drank some water.

Porters carrying our tents and meals passed by me in sandals with thin leather soles. These locals were our “sherpas” and had packed up and left after me, now they seemed to sprint by with their tied canvas packs larger and heavier than mine. They traveled these paths regularly with groups in this high altitude, but still I couldn’t believe they had just blown past me. I was traveling with a group of friends, but we had separated as we each found a different pace up the mountain. Alone with my thoughts, the lush greenery surrounded me on all sides. There is a peacefulness here. I moved steadily forward.

Suddenly, the vista opened. I came out of the tree line, and I could see the trail ahead of me carved into the side of the mountain range like a ribbon. The porters and other hikers seemed like ants scattered along the trail decorating the side of the mountain ahead. I would learn later that this was called “Dead Woman’s Pass.” As I looked down into the expansive valley framed by the blue skies and sunshine, I was struck by the awesomeness of the moment — and my small tiny place in it.

“Oh My God!”

The words came to me in a moment of reverence. And that reverence would continue all the way to our destination of Machu Picchu.

Louie Schwartzberg knows these awe-inspiring moments well. He is a Nature photographer that captures spectacular time-lapse images. He describes my words.

The “oh” means it caught your attention, makes you present, makes you mindful. The “my” means it connects with something deep inside your soul. It creates a gateway for your inner voice to rise up and be heard. And “God”? God is that personal journey we all want to be on, to be inspired, to feel like we’re connected to a universe that celebrates life.

With the beautiful images in the video below, Louie Schwartzberg captures the experience of gratitude. The final images are accompanied by the voice of Benedictine monk, Brother David Steindl-Rast, creating a beautiful meditation on the topic of gratitude. For 3 simple steps to gratitude, see my prior post on Brother David Steindl-Rast: (1) Stop, (2) Look, (3) Go. Somehow, for me, these steps echo Schwartzberg’s description of connecting to God through Nature within the words, “Oh My God!”

Watch the TEDx talk by Louie Schwartzberg: Nature. Beauty. Gratitude.

Movies by Louie Schwartzberg