On the 15th of December, a group of us – St. Joseph’s Church youths, went for a nature walk at Rimba Ilmu Botanical Garden in University Malaya. This trip was casually called Loggin’ Out where young people were invited to disconnect from social media in order to have a better connection with nature – our common home – and with each other.
We gathered in St. Joseph’s Church at noon for registration and a simple lunch before departing to Rimba. We arrived there with excited faces, ready to take on the walk. Our tour guide, Benjamin Ong or better known as Ben, gave us a briefing and explained how Rimba is a secondary rainforest and that we must remember that in a forest, we are the visitors and therefore must be mindful of the plants and creatures living there.
We were fascinated by the beauty of nature and had a wonderful time learning and exploring. We were introduced to various types of wild and medicinal plants and tasted fresh leaves and herbs like limau nipis for the first time. All our senses were engaged as we also touched and felt nature around us like bright orange fungi which were a mixture of algae and bacteria that made them feel very soft and velvety; we listened to whistling insects and smelled the fragrant leaves and fruits. Everyone’s faces lit up when they saw clear streams in the forest! Some even filled up their water bottles with it. The water was safe to drink directly in small amounts and was tested to be one of the cleanest in KL. We also got to see one of the largest palm trees in the world and gigantic bamboo stems. And just as we were walking out of Rimba through a beautiful quiet path, it started to pour heavily. Showers of blessing at the end of a wonderful time amongst God’s handiwork!
We then gathered in a cozy little glass-walled room for a short reflective debrief. We relaxed, reflected and talked about the tour we had and felt just happy to be able to experience such an amazing walk. We learnt to appreciate the beauty of God’s creation and how beautiful it is that He gave us nature as a gift! We realized that, as followers of Christ, we should learn to appreciate and care for nature even through the little gestures in our daily lives. After that, Ben told us that our group broke the record for having the longest time spent in the forest, which was about 3 hours, as the average time spent is usually about one and a half hours. We were all very happy to hear that and one of our friends quipped, “It didn’t even feel like 3 hours!” We wrapped up our trip after thanking Ben for a good time in Rimba and headed back to St. Joseph’s Church.
Through Loggin’ Out, we now understand that nature is also where we feel God’s love and caress too, as Pope Francis reminds us. That was an eye-opener! We learnt that we should spend more of our time for nature; for and with God.
Even though we live in the city, we can move mountains by first taking small steps like planting plants and trees or just taking a nature walk or watching the sunrise. In this way, we can do our part in loving and saving Mother Nature. Spread awareness about nature conservation with your family and friends as we are called to enjoy, love, and conserve what God has given us. Let’s together care for our common home!