Sunday, October 23, 2016

The woods: Good for the soul

I’ve enjoyed numerous hikes in national parks, woodland preserves and rustic forests. While we know physical activity is good for us, exercising outside in nature goes above and beyond. When I’ve had a mentally exhausting day, there’s no better medicine than to head for the woods to take a hike.

I love the quiet. I very much appreciate the time to be unplugged from electronics and the beck and call of the next “to do.” Every step through crunching leaves is therapy. Whether stepping on spongy earth or crackling twigs, it’s like holy ground to me. I see the intricate pattern in the tiny mosses on decaying stumps, and the dainty ferns filling the forest floor. I smell that woodsy goodness and the world feels right again. 

As I plod along the trail, the worries slowly roll off. I make my way to the crest of a hill and a new view opens up. Much like the one I can receive when I cast all my cares on Him… the One who provides for every living creature… the One who designed this perfect, self-sustaining ecosystem… the One who gave the squirrels a place to play and assigned every bird a different voice and a new song. When the sunlight streams through the canopy highlighting dozens of amazing colors, I find a new peace.

For a lovely hour, I can forget about the ways of the chaotic world and walk through a sanctuary created by God, letting every gentle breeze caress me, allowing every critter's chirp and chatter to minister. Sometimes I have the sudden joy of seeing other wildlife, like a deer, eagle or great blue heron.

To me it’s no surprise that exercising outside in nature helps clear our heads, increase creativity and focus, recharge us and build our self-esteem. I fully believe God designed it that way.

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