I think it started to happen somewhere in the middle of these tenders days of blink-emerging out into the light after more than a year of lockdowns and a chain of key losses, while I was sitting out in our back pasture, between the woods and the river, sitting there watching my little flock of shorn sheep grow back into themselves.
“Everyone has to find a way to heal.”
True, many of us lost some beautiful souls this year — and jobs and security and work-life balance and peace of mind and how many plans and dreams and hopes, and there isn’t one of us who hasn’t had a brutally hard journey, but true, too, this is always the way of life out here on third rock from the sun, and everyone has to find a way to heal.
“Wherever the ache of life meets more of the awe of God, we are more healed.”
That’s what I started to tentatively draw, my own map toward healing, as I walked through the sheep pasture, through the reaching limbs of the woods, and down by the song of the river going on and on, as I kept returning to that research, where they “tracked 124 veterans and underserved youth” — people finding a way to navigate life and loss and hurt and all the hard of being human — and they were taken “on either one-day or four-day whitewater rafting trips. Participants filled out diaries at the end of each day on their experiences and emotional responses, and we followed up with surveys on each of the participants a week later. We wanted to track six emotions: awe, amusement, contentment, gratitude, joy and pride.
The second study employed a similar number of subjects, but focused on the role nature played in affecting emotion on a daily basis rather than pegging it to a rare but exhilarating experience such as a whitewater rafting trip. Subjects kept diaries on their quotidian routines, noting the degree of “nature” they experienced (from walking or hiking in a park) and their resultant emotional states.
“Our story finds healing where we’re awed by God’s glory.”
The ache of life heals when we are awed by God.
That: Wherever the ache of life meets more of the awe of God, we are more healed. More than any other emotion, what heals us is the awe of God.
“It is the glory of God that is part of gloriously healing us.”
That’s what the research undeniably indicates: God’s glory undeniably HEALS us.
Our story finds healing where we’re awed by God’s glory.
“In a study looking at the link between nature and cancer, people who took two long walks in nature over two consecutive days had an increase in their cancer-fighting cells, known as NK cells, of 50 percent, and an increase in the activity of these cells by 56 percent. In addition, the activity levels of the cells remained high for a month. These studies highlight the numerous ways that simply getting outdoors will benefit us psychologically and physically.”
That is what orients through life: It is the glory of God that is part of gloriously healing us.
“… going for a 40-minute walk in a cedar forest lowers the level of cortisol, a stress hormone, as well as blood pressure and supports the immune system more than a similar 40-minute walk indoors in a lab.”
So this is what I’ve done this, especially in the battering seasons, the lockdown seasons, the loss seasons, the anxious, unsure seasons. I’ve made it part of my daily spiritual rhythms, my daily way of life, to not let the day pass by without me getting outside for a long walk in His glory.
“Adoration of God’s glory short circuits rumination of our problems.”
But Believers can have a way of life, a way of being in the world, what I call: “Glory Soaking.”
Daily Glory Soaks cleanse the mind so the heart can fill with thanks.
“Our tendency to brood, referred to by cognitive scientists as “morbid rumination,” often makes us focus on the negative aspects of our lives and can lead to anxiety and depression. Scientist and researcher Bratman and his colleagues found that the participants who walked in the quieter, wooded portion of a campus had lower activity in the brooding portion of their brains.”
“… nature walkers showed cognitive benefits including an increase in working memory performance, “decreased anxiety, rumination, and negative affect, and preservation of positive affect.”
Adoration of God’s glory short circuits rumination of our problems.
If you want to heal more of the losses in your life, make it your way of life to get outside every day to hear what God means to tell you: “The heavens are telling the glory of God” [Psalm 19:1].
That means? That means God sings close over us with spread of sky, God stuns and awes with painted sunrises, God unravels stress with His choreographic dance of stars, God enfolds us everywhere in surround sound: “Glory, glory, glory, I am glory and I fill everything with glory so why fill with worry?”
When the heart is full of trouble, step outside to see that the whole earth isn’t only full of trouble, but ultimately is full of His glory.
“The way to navigate loss is to lose all that distracts from the glory of God.”
Step outside and watch the Maker of clouds overhead, lift the clouds within.
He who breaks the clouds can heal our heartbreak, and the Maker of a million stars can heal every kind of broken heart.
The river winds on and unknots a tangle of worries, and the grasses surrender and bend in the wind so they don’t break, and “God is a sun that never sets… As the air surrounds you, even so does the mercy of your Lord,” writes Charles Spurgeon, and there is time to look out, to look up, to breathe glory deep into the lungs, and to feel it happen: more healing written into our wounds and our losses.
The way to navigate loss is to lose all that distracts from the glory of God.
Glory heals and beauty binds up and awe awakens us to God here, right here.
And I sit out in green pastures with our flock of sheep while the soul feeds on His glory and heals under a sky of boundless love.
The answer to anxiety is the adoration of Christ… and my story of just that: One Thousand Gifts and the 60 DAY DEVOTIONAL with 1000 numbered lines to count your #1000gifts: One Thousand Gifts Devotional: Reflecting on Finding Everyday Graces.
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