- Dennis Tan
Walks to get back to the Garden
Rain or Shine?
It was a drizzly morning. The pitter-patter of rain was all I could think about as I made my long commute over to Dairy Farm Nature Park. Were our walks going to be cancelled? How long should we wait?
But lo and behold, the drizzle ceased, and the first group met up. I breathed a sigh of relief as months of planning finally began to bear fruit. Our walks were finally going to begin!
These walks were meant to foster a sense of community among those of us who care for our natural environment, something we felt we really needed. It does get lonely at times to care for a cause many found easy to dismiss, especially in hot humid Singapore.
Besides community building, we understood that it was important to create an encounter with nature: how could we expect others to care for something that they did not know about? And how better but to show people the wonders that can be found around them? In a fast-paced society where we rarely pause and reflect, we wanted to craft out a space for all of us to stop and ponder on our place in the world.
As we are Christians, we chose the name A Walk in God’s Garden because we wanted to reflect the idea that all that exists around us is created by God and belongs to Him. We wondered what it would’ve been like if we were still in Eden: lush greenery, cool rivers, casually taking walks with God in the cool of the day – how amazing that would’ve been! Likewise, as we take the step to reconnect with nature and repair our broken relationship with our world, perhaps we can start to see the world around us as a new Eden. A beautiful garden where we are in commune with our Creator and the rest of his creation – where it is all very good.
Therefore, we planned the journey and wrote our scripts with this in mind, putting a uniquely Christian perspective on the usual nature walks we go for. We wanted to point our participants to our Creator, the issues that plague His world today, and what we as His Church can do about it.
The unexpected situation – and the lessons it taught us
With the rain gone, I had barely breathed a sigh of relief when Ann Shin, our team member guiding the first group, sent an SOS: most of her participants were not Christian!
(Later, we found out that this was due to some administrative settings in Eventbrite, leading to many signing up thinking that this would be a normal nature walk.) We started to panic a bit: we had planned the walk with a Christian audience in mind, meaning that we had to change our script and pivot the focus of our walk drastically – in a matter of minutes.
Yet through it all, it was a clear reminder that we were wholly dependent on God. Just as we wrote in our audio guide: “as much as we, human beings, like to think of ourselves as independent and self-sufficient, ultimately, we are dependent on God's provision.” Without Him giving us good weather and the wisdom and words to speak off-the-cuff that day, it wouldn’t have been successful.
But God had one more lesson in store for us. At the end of my group’s walk, I thanked them for coming and explained what we do at Creation Care SG. One of my participants piped up and shared that she thought it was “very good” that Christians were going out of their churches and doing all this. It was just a small comment – but it really impacted all of us.
In fact, I used to think of creation care as something that could only be done overseas, where there were deserts to green, soil plots to rejuvenate, or contaminated water sources to purify. But it struck me then that it wasn’t true – here was an opportunity that God had led us to!
We often think of walking with someone as metaphorical. But it can also be literal – by taking the time out to go on a walk with someone, we can learn more about them and learn from each other’s perspectives on the environmental crisis.
A slow walk, to savour nature, enjoy new conversations can in the end serve the larger cause of caring for what has been gifted to us.
This post was contributed by Dennis Tan who is part of Creation Care Sg. You can find out more about their walks and efforts at: https://www.facebook.com/creationcare.sg/