By: Ayren Jackson-Cannady

“Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” –Psalm: 23:4

I had never been much into nature. Sure, I liked the occasional potted plant or vase full of red roses (hint-hint, hubby, if you’re reading this). But when it came to getting down and dirty in the great outdoors? Nah, I’d pass.

Then I had a boy baby, who quickly morphed into a grit- and grime-loving 5-year-old. With this kid, I couldn’t help but learn to appreciate the intricacies of rocks, crumbling fall leaves, and bugs–“Look, Ma! It’s the 239th ant I found today!” He’d stay outside digging and planting and running and climbing and exploring all night long if I let him.

One day as we sat in the backyard–well, I sat; he buzzed around like a bee searching for honey–he asked, “Mama, why does the sun have to go away?”

“So the moon can come out and you can go to sleep,” I said with a side-eye, because he never, ever wants to go to sleep.

“But, why?” FYI: My nature boy is also super inquisitive. He asks the most questions, and I apologize in advance to his future elementary school teachers.

But why, I thought. Why?

Why do the leaves fall from the trees?
So new ones can grow in the Spring.

Why does it rain?
So the sun and, if we’re lucky, a rainbow can come out to brighten the sky.

Why does the ground freeze in the winter?
So it can get warm in the summer and my little naturalist can spend the day soaking it all in.

The nature world, I now know, is full of beautiful reminders that for every up there is a down (and then another up). God created the world with hundreds of thousands of highs and lows; peaks and valleys. It’s one of his subtle (er, not so subtle) ways of letting us know that he is moving…always.

On the surface it may look like the sun has set (rough family stuff, struggling finances, work that’s just not working…), but God’s will is for there to be light in the morning. We can walk confidently through the world as leaders with that little bit of knowledge. Flowers will grow again, rainbows will blow up in the sky, and the ants–all 4,706 of them–will go marching on.

Ayren Jackson-Cannady
is a freelance writer and editor who has contributed to various publications and websites, including, the New York Times, Real Simple, and Glamour. She loves Ethiopian coffee, DIY manicures and weekend road trips to anywhere. Ayren, who attends the Kingstowne campus of Capital City Church, lives in Arlington, Va. with her husband John and their two hilarious kids. Follow her on Instagram @ayrenjc.



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