If I don’t get outdoors regularly to enjoy the beauty of creation, I suffer from NDD – nature deficiency (or deficit) disorder. (Check out this article for a reference to it.)
Since I was a little kid growing up in the country in upstate New York, I’ve loved the outdoors and I feel squirmy and gray if I don’t get out and feel the weather, sense the season, and notice signs of life around me.

Here in Maryland, the buds are coming out – red maples especially, but also birch trees and pear and cherry trees. And birds have started singing – in recent morning walks, I’ve heard lots of robins, song sparrows, house finches, cardinals, a nuthatch (I forgot which kind), chickadees, grackles and red-winged blackbirds. I’ve seen a few mockingbirds, but they don’t seem to be singing much yet. Soon I’ll hear cedar waxwings passing through – they tend to stay in the highest branches, so you hear them but can’t see more than their crested profile. And we have lots of geese flying north in their constantly morphing v’s, even at night, their calls made hauntingly beautiful in the darkness.
We’ve had a few mild moist evenings that brought out the spring peepers, one of my favorite sounds in all God’s creation. No trilling toads or tree frogs yet though, but maybe today it will be warm enough that their songs will join the chorus of spring.
Today I’m taking part of the day off to treat my NDD. I’ll put on my hip waders and head down to a wetland I’ve gone to every spring for many years. Sunny in the high 50’s – it should be a good day to feel the springtime in the air.
In springtime, I identify more than ever with the beautiful old Jackson Browne song where he says that nature is the sanctuary where he can best worship … (here‘s a nice version of it). And I suppose in spring I most feel the pain of creation too … bulldozers and asphalt “developing” forests and fields into shopping malls and right of ways, explosives destroying the world’s oldest mountains for a quick buck in the fossil fuels market.
As I’m walking among the budding alders and tussock sedge and skunk cabbage today, I’ll be worshiping their creator. And I’ll be praying too … that more and more of us will wake up to the spirituality of ecology, following the good example of people like Southern Baptist Jonathan Merritt, whose courageous leadership I wrote about earlier this week at the sojo blog.
If you have a case of NDD … maybe you should get out in the sights, sounds and smells of spring and take a walk today. And then maybe read Psalm 19. You won’t just feel better; you’ll be better.