My fascination with trees began in childhood, climbing mimosa trees, inhaling the fragrance of magenta plumes, playing princess in a castle or pioneers in a fort up there. Now I have a fond affection for the double rows of cypresses at the university near home. No walk is begun without starting under their benevolent shelter near the theater building, even when they are mere sticks in winter. Yes, I love to be under those trees. With spring here, I feel like Arwen Evenstar, a queen beneath the feathery green branches that make a bower over my head.
Health and healing–a renewing adventure along a trail of twists and turns of varying symptoms of hormone imbalances, gut issues, and insomnia that have diminished somewhat. Well, honestly, there are things that still alarm me and I have to go back often to my True North, my Creator, for help and perspective. Instinctively I go toward trees.
But my overall growth as a person and a person of faith have really been accelerated during this long and trying season. So I can’t discount precious things I’ve learned and experienced. It’s by no means as dramatic as July 4th fireworks, cascading fountains of light in a night sky.
It’s been little and slow changes mostly. And yet, the levels of gratitude and joy forged in these hard days and nights have been dramatic for me.
Simple things like walking among trees have contributed to my health and growth. I like to mention this because the journey back from illness and disease to recovery and healing is a long, scary battle for many. What if there were gentle practices, beneficial for soul and body, that might do us all good if we just opened our eyes to the gifts directly on our paths? Like trees.
Looking back, I see that as a sensitive child and teenager, there were some trips to the country and even a time of living in the country when I was tossing about in teenage storms of emotions. Those times in nature’s sanctuaries were grounding, calming, and an escape from pressures—though I didn’t see it then. There were also a few camping experiences that were hilarious, like raccoons in thief mode, breaking into our cooler out on the picnic table (inexperienced campers, yes!), and just plain stress-relieving. When I’m outdoors, I seem to let go of problems. I get absorbed in smelling and feeling the wind, admiring pale pink primroses in the neighbor’s yard—in other words, I don’t think and wrestle and plan.
There have been invigorating times of travel to new places—Puget Sound, Vancouver, B.C., Guadalajara, Hawaii, Muir Woods,—wow oh wow–Yellowstone National Park, mountain majesty in Colorado and the countryside in NY and Pennsylvania, Oxford, England, beloved British Isles, my most favorite travel destination on the planet. All that time away from routine and troubles, just soaking in sights, smells, tastes, being around trees of different varieties like cedars of Lebanon, Sequoias, red oaks, weeping willows, experiencing cultures and places—all of it, magnificent, healing, life-changing.
Hm-mm, seems there is for me a particular thread, a multi-colored, brilliant thread through all those travels—TREES.
I adore trees. And I recently learned about the Japanese practice of forest-bathing, shinrin-yoku, as they call it. I just call it tree therapy. It’s essentially about just being outdoors and enjoying nature. It is backed by science. Trees exude chemicals to protect themselves from bugs and germs—technical name phytoncide. Love that word! Anyway, the time among trees is helpful to our immune systems, lowers blood pressure, reduces stress, and as anybody knows, it gives a sense of well-being.
When anxiety ran riot in my brain and chest two years ago, I’d go outdoors and try to do the grounding thing with my feet in the soft, moist soil under wood chips. But soon the ants found me and had the nerve to bite me too. End of grounding.
But opportunities to walk or just rest like a Monarch butterfly on bark are endless…and cheap, as in free.
Don’t miss any opportunity for this outdoor spa experience. It may be one of the little and slow ways of God that will help heal our bodies and souls.