Summer is here at last.
One recurring theme on this website is the relationship between the natural world and the pursuit of rest or stress relief. I came across scientific research, including some conducted by Edinburgh University, into the effect of environment on those suffering with stress, which concluded that '...contact with natural environments promotes psychological restoration, improved mood, improved attention and reduced stress and anxiety.'*
Apparently, 'even short-term visits to nature areas have positive effects on perceived stress relief compared to a built-up environment.'**
It seems that the natural world is officially a great stress-buster.
The benefits of getting outside are enhanced by the Christian perspective. To engage with creation invites us into an encounter with its Maker.
Check out these verses...
Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of His glory.
The earth is filled with your love, LORD; teach me your decrees.
LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!
You have set your glory in the heavens.
When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars,
which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them,
human beings that you care for them?
The whole earth is filled with awe at your wonders;
where morning dawns, where evening fades, you call forth songs of joy.
Our ancestors lived with acute awareness of the seasons, as their ability to survive from year to year depended on working in harmony with the natural world. Life was by necessity slower. In comparison, divorced as we are from the seasonal cycle, for most of us in the modern western world time rushes past with relentless haste.
Tuning into creation in its seasonal clothes helps to slow us down, re-connect us to the earth’s rhythms and gives our lives ‘breathing spaces’. Each season has its own attributes, colour, shape and purpose, by taking time to ‘stand and stare’ we not only tune in to the mystery of creation, but into what has been described as the ‘divine breathings’. We put ourselves in the way of an encounter with the Creator Himself.
God has revealed Himself through His Word, and expressly through Jesus Christ. But there is an additional ‘book of revelation’, (which never contradicts the revelation in His Word), which is open for all people to read: the Book of Creation [Romans 1:20].
In the last century, the western world has seen an almighty attack on the belief in God as Creator, and has reaped the consequences (see Romans 1). But the Lord will not let His glory be dishonoured forever, and I believe there is a time coming when people of all persuasions will have amazing encounters with the power and presence of the Living God, through His handiwork.
For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky.
Through everything God made, they can clearly see His invisible qualities--
His eternal power and divine nature.
So they have no excuse for not knowing God.
[Romans 1:20 NLT]
The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.
For in Him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible,
whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities;
all things have been created through Him and for Him.
He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.
[Colossians 1: 15-17]
The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge.
They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them.
Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.
[Psalm 19: 1-4]
When Jacob awoke from His sleep, (out on a hillside) he thought,
‘Surely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it.’
He was afraid and said, ‘How awesome is this place!
This is none other than the house of God; this is the gate of heaven.
[Genesis 14: 16,17]
Let’s celebrate this summer (or winter, for those in the southern hemisphere) by making plans to get out at regular intervals into the garden, town or country park, hills or beaches. It will do us good—physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually.
Check out the following pages on this site:
Where Do We Come From?
Meet the Maker
The Rhythm of Seasonal Living
For those who would like to delve further into recent research, there are interesting lecture videos from Professor Catharine Ward Thompson of Edinburgh University on the following link:
And on the importance of green spaces in cities:
*Studies by Kaplan & Kaplan, 1989; Ulrich et al, 1991; Hartig et al, 2003; Grahn and Stigsdotter, 2003; Ottosson and Grahn, 2005; Maas et al, 2009; Barton and Pretty, 2010; Roe and Aspinall, 2011. Landscape and Urban Planning, April 2012
NEXT WEEK: More on connecting with the earth's rhythms...
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[Photo credits: Nicole King (waterfall); Artem Kovalev (gazing girl); Adam Solomon (hello sign) @ Unsplash, with thanks]
Da Kraplak (type writer);
Merakist (social media)
@ Unsplash, with thanks]
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