What feelings does this picture evoke in you?
Nature has always been a source of peacefulness and healing for me. After a long winter, I am itching to get out to my garden and get my hands and knees dirty in the soil. Even our cat has been excited by the leaves blowing across our back yard. When out in nature, we all experience a sense of being more grounded and feel the stress of daily life fall away.
Did you know that there is a whole therapy system based on reconnecting with nature called ecotherapy? It is based on the concept of our vital connection with nature and that when we are removed from nature, we are removed from ourselves and suffer for it. It is vital for us to return to our roots in nature so that we are able to experience greater peace, regulate our emotions, and increase creativity and a sense of well-being. In fact, researchers have now found that there are chemicals called phytoncides that some trees release that reduce stress and anxiety, and even lower inflammation and blood pressure.
In Japan, there is actually a practice called forest bathing specifically designed to reduce stress, lower blood pressure, and manage diabetes.
Nature is also a great place to pray, meditate, journal or be creative. It reminds us of our connectedness with God and the greater universe that he so lovingly created for us. It is also a place where we can meet God over and over again, noticing the beauty of the simple flowers, the majesty of trees, and the songs of birds. It is a place for solace and gratitude. May you find some time in nature this Lenten season and re-connect with God’s love through it!