By Rhoda Klein Miller
Have you noticed that subtle shift in your body, mind, or spirit when you immerse yourself in a wild or natural landscape? Apart from the noise of traffic and the concrete jungle, we find an oasis of peace in the heart of a forest or sands of a shoreline, even if the mosquitoes are hounding us!
In her book, The Wild Remedy: How Nature Mends Us, Emma Mitchell shares how her use of a remote cottage helped her combat depression. “Using nature as a remedy has convinced me that humans may need to be in natural landscapes regularly in order to be fully well,” she writes. “Perhaps it is the displacement from nature in modern life that is causing so many of us to struggle with our mental health.”
Research shows time in nature, particularly among trees, helps lower the stress hormones and decreases blood pressure. When exposed to sunlight and organic soil, our body releases higher levels of serotonin, a neurotransmitting chemical associated with happiness. There’s also evidence that a special kind of white blood cell that helps fight viruses becomes more active when we spend time in the woods. When we breathe in the scent of plants we absorb compounds called phytoncides that can have beneficial effects on our immune system.
This makes sense when you consider we were created as garden-dwellers. As the great Joni Mitchell line goes, “We’ve got to get ourselves back to the garden.” Susan Power Bratton writes, “Experiencing the beauty and peace of God in nature is not a substitute for direct interaction with the regenerative powers of the Creator, but the mending and binding so necessary to heal our stress-filled lives may flow through creation. For the spiritually oppressed, or the socially injured, a pleasing or quiet natural environment can help provide spiritual release. Resting by a clear river, or sitting on a sunny slope can bring peace and joy into clouded souls.”
OAC’s Church Outdoors is an initiative to take your devotional practice and worship experience into nature. Our live broadcast will be shorter than usual so you can spend the unfilled time with your Bible or prayer journal at the beach, park or garden of your choice. Soak your soul in the beauty of scripture and creation. You can find a free “church outdoors” resource guide to download HERE
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