a resource for this time of COVID-19 social distancing
By the Rev. Cathy Scott, Holy Family Episcopal Church
Psalm 148: 1, 3-10Praise for God’s Universal Glory1 Praise the Lord!
3 Praise him, sun and moon;
praise him, all you shining stars!
4 Praise him, you highest heavens,
and you waters above the heavens!
5 Let them praise the name of the Lord,
for he commanded and they were created.
6 He established them forever and ever;
he fixed their bounds, which cannot be passed.[a]
7 Praise the Lord from the earth,
you sea monsters and all deeps,
8 fire and hail, snow and frost,
stormy wind fulfilling his command!
9 Mountains and all hills,
fruit trees and all cedars!
10 Wild animals and all cattle,
creeping things and flying birds!
During these days of physical social isolation, we have another way to immerse ourselves in the sacred graciousness of God's community. As the ancients before us experienced, the Holy is hidden in plain sight in God’s creation – the woods, the singing and flight of the birds, the babbling waters of the stream, the quiet rustling of the leaves. In the depths of nature, God whispers to us.
The popularity of the Japanese art of forest bathing (walking contemplatively through the woods), has been a common practice for monks and nuns for centuries. But the woods are not the sole territory of the religious among us. Thoreau and John Muir beautifully wrote of their times in nature. It is safe to say that, being in the woods and disconnected (literally) from the frantic pace of society and our own expectations is healthy for us physically, mentally, and spiritually.
Take the time to take a path. The longer you walk among the trees, the quieter your mind becomes. A robin’s song displaces your inner critic. Anxiety dissolves and is replaced by a deep peace and an even deeper understanding that God is God of all Creation and your comings and goings are held within God’s embrace.
Although called forest bathing, I invite you to at least dip your toe into the woods. Go alone or take your family. But, stash your cell phone in your pocket. Ask Jesus to walk with you on the wilderness path (metaphorically if you are in Fishers :->). You know, if you invite Jesus to walk with you, Jesus will do so.
In fact, on a walk you can invite your ancestors to be with you. Perhaps a parent or grandparent or a good friend who has passed on. Another idea is to prepare a list of names of people you want to lift up in prayer and take that list with you and pray for each of those people as you walk in the woods.
Let the forest be your sanctuary and may we all be sanctuary for each other.
Shinrin yoku – The Japanese Art of Forest Bathing by Yoshifumi Miyazaki
Forest Bathing Retreat: Find Wholeness in the Company of Trees by Hannah Fries