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Today is World Science Day for Peace and Development, a day to highlight the significant role of science in society and celebrate the importance and relevance of science in our daily lives. This year, at a time when the world is struggling with the global COVID-19 pandemic, the focus of World Science Day is “science for and with society in dealing with the global pandemic.”

When the pandemic first hit Maine last March, we here at Schoodic Institute turned to nature, as did so many people around the world. We asked you to join us in paying attention to mosses and lichens, birds and wildflowers, trees and shorelines, an effort that resulted in:

Over the course of the year, we have found that the practice of paying attention is a path to peace: as we slow down and focus, the sights, sounds, smells and textures of nature surround us. The heartbeat slows, the body relaxes. The benefits of time spent in nature on individual physical and mental health are by now both well-established and well-known. But did you know that there are benefits to society as well? When we spend time in nature, our minds wander beyond thoughts of the self. We realize we are small, yet part of a large and interconnected world. And in that yielding to curiosity and awe, in letting go of selfish concerns, we create space for thoughts of others. After a morning of watching birds, measuring rockweed, or counting trees, we are refreshed, restored, and ready to re-engage with one another, and with the world and all the challenges we face.

“Every time I share an observation (on iNaturalist or Twitter) I feel like I am attending to and advocating for the world right in front of me, while connecting with larger communities,” said Hannah Webber, Marine Ecology Director at Schoodic Institute. “At first I felt oddly, inordinately, joyful while sharing the observations, but while reading this article in Vox, I came to recognize the feeling for what it was/is: gratitude.”

Gratitude inspires generosity, kindness, and, ultimately, peace.

Where and how do you find peace in nature?

Join the conversation with the hashtags #ScienceDay #peaceinnature #listeningtonature

dramatic clouds and sun over the ocean and snow-covered rocks of schoodic point
Photo by Amy Kopec.