I’m a Master Gardener and Master Naturalist and as such, recently attended a presentation by Dr. Kathleen Wolf for the Smithsonian Gardens and other federal and local public gardens staff. During the morning Dr. Wolf shared with us research data affirming what we already know—getting outside in God’s green earth is good for what goes on inside of us!
Dr. Wolf’s mission: “To discover and understand the human benefits of nature in cities.” Among the many benefits social scientists have explored include proof offered that natural settings help us heal and learn, help us focus, and enhance our native creativity. Give your ideas legs! Forest schools for preschoolers and forest “bathing” (Shinrin Yoku in Japanese) for urban-dwellers; ‘Hike-it Baby’ walking programs, walking meetings, philosophers’ walks—all these measures, proven to enlarge the human soul, had me imagining Jesus and his disciples.
Breathing deeply the breezes of the Galilean Sea while preaching to hungry crowds, walking from village to village to heal bodies and souls, hiking to Jerusalem through the Judean desert, taking to prayer in a garden in Gethsemane: all are biblical images that reflect the call of the soul to bathe in God’s glorious creation, to take strength, nourishment and refreshment from the natural world around us.
And, by extension, all suggest reasons to be gracious and careful stewards of the natural world given us.
Do you find your days more often “mind-full” rather than “mindful,” as do I? This Lent, let’s get outside, and perhaps even let our legs help us with mindfulness and prayer. As we ask ourselves during this season of study and quiet reflection how we can best model discipleship and share God’s love, let’s go walking, and let’s give our baptismal call legs!
Appointed readings for today: 2 Kings 5:1-15b, Psalm 42:1-7, Luke 4:23-30