There may be no cure for the wrong doing that has been suffered in the recent tragic attacks, but there is much that each of us can do to restore our own vitality and harmony. This is important! A nation is never more than the collective sum of its individuals so our building and maintaining our strength, resolve and energy is important. Being balanced is not only good for your wealth and health, it helps our country.
One way to do this is through nature. Here is a letter my son,(who is theEducation Director for the Everglades Projects for the National WildlifeFederation sent me that expresses this fact.”The recent, horrifying images seen on T.V. and newspaper pages haveleftour country with a heavy heart, not knowing where to turn to relievethepain. At times like this, taking a moment to re-connect with naturecanprovide a solace unmatched by any man-made escape. Now more thanever, weneed the prescription described by Henry David Thoreau as 'the tonicof wildness'.”
I strongly believe we can feed our soul by stepping outside to hearthesound of water as it ripples down a creek bed or rushes against theshore,lifting our eyes to behold the serenity and stability of an agingtree,feeling the wind in our face, watching a butterfly flit from flowertoflower. Immersion in nature's wonders can be the best distractionfrom thereality of our pain.
I experienced this first hand last week when I couldn't take thedeath anddespair any longer and escaped to my refuge in the foothills ofVirginia'sBlue Ridge Mountains to observe over 400 broad-winged hawks amassingabovemy house. While I watched these graceful birds in flight, groups ofMonarchs, riding the winds, joined the birds in their journey south,reminding me that the seasonal cycles of the natural world go on,undeterred by the havoc around them. Best of all, experiences likeminearen't just found in far-away wilderness areas or our nationalparks, theyare right outside our back door in gardens, urban parks or thatpatch ofgreen next to the schoolyard.
Being reminded of the things in life that transcend human atrocitieslifted my spirit, mended my heart, brought comfort to that whichseemedinconsolable, and delivered the hope I needed to face the challengesahead. The world is often harsh as the events of the last weeks haveproven.Spending time surrounded by nature can help soften the blow bydeliveringan inner peace. John Muir aptlydescribed thebenefits derived from spending time with nature as a way to renewmentalenergy.
For proof of nature's healing power one need only read accounts ofhowAmericans instinctively flocked to urban gardens, mountainoverlooks,forested trails and ocean shores in the wake of the terroristattacks,seeking refuge from an anguish that was all consuming. In thoseplacesthey found the solace and spiritual renewal that nature canbring.Famed writer Wallace Stegner wrote that as human beings we need wildplaces available to us as a way of reassuring ourselves of oursanity ascreatures. Calling this sense of connection to the natural worldpart ofthe “Geography of Hope”, Stegner evoked the eternal rhythms of whichweare all a part.
Exposure to the natural world has been shown to be therapeutic byalleviating stress and promoting health. The medical community haslongknown about the healing power of nature, which is why healinggardens arecropping up in medical centers across the country. Healthcareprovidersunderstand that flowers, trees and running water can create an oasisforthose facing the trauma of a debilitating disease or the loss of aloved one.
As Americans and the whole world look for spiritual renewal, emotionalhealing, or timetoreflect on how our country will rebound from this national tragedy,manyare turning to Mother Nature. Wildlife and wild places — whetherthey arefound in the mesas of the West, the grasslands of the Midwest, theAlleghenies or Adirondacks of the East, or the park down the street– arepart of our strength as a nation, an indomitable part of ourAmericanheritage that is impervious to those who attempt to destroy ourresolve.
Every time we set out food for birds we trust to return, watch inawe assalmon return to their birthplace to spawn, plant a seed in agarden, orgaze at the stunning beauty of Monarch butterflies as they migrateas muchas 2000 miles every Fall, we affirm our confidence in the future –forthese are acts of faith, the same faith that empowers our country toriseanew in the wake of tragedy.
President Abraham Lincoln understood the power of that faith in thenatural world, even in the midst of the Civil War, when in 1864 hegrantedthe Mariposa Sequoia Grove and Yosemite Valley to the state ofCaliforniafor permanent protection; they are now all part of Yosemite NationalPark.
We often focus on protecting wildlife and those natural places welove.Now those wild places can come to our rescue, giving us the strengthandhope we need to face an uncertain future. There is comfort inknowing thatthe soothing sights and sounds of nature will always be there toembraceus, steering our nation toward whatever “normal” might mean for usin themonths ahead. As events unfold, take the time to get outside andexperience your own special place. Let nature's healing hand lift upyourheart and your spirit.”You are always welcome at our B&B here on the farm. I hope to see youhere!