Spring has sprung! Isn’t it wonderful? I love the vibrant shades of green in the grass. Pair that with a beautiful back drop of forsythia bushes and its hard to beat. It’s as if the extra rain at this time of year wakes nature up from its winter slumber.
I have a question for you…. Are you awake?
We’ve spent the last 13 months in our own hibernation…..isolated, siloed off from each other, laying dormant, waiting.
Human activity declined so much that there was a reduction of air pollution and greenhouse gas emission, a reduction in water and noise pollution, and dolphins returned coastal areas, canals, waterways and even ports of Venice Italy after not being seen for a decade.
During their winter slumber trees, flowers, grass, animals, and bugs spend the winter resting, protecting, and renewing. We haven’t had the same luxury in our 13 months of hibernation. It would be nice if we could all say we spent the last 13 months renewing our body mind and spirit? But we weren’t. We’ve been living under high levels of stress, navigating many uncertainties without our routine and without access to many of the coping strategies we use under stress.
Here we are approaching a new beginning, a different kind of spring. The CDC and states are slowly relaxing precautions, children are back to in-person school, and we are being allowed to gather in larger numbers again. As we approach this new and different kind of spring, are we rested and renewed?
I’m going to go out on a limb and say no. We’ve been worried, longing for normalcy, disconnected from social groups, snacking all day and adapting to change…… so much change.
I”m sure there are some well adjusted introverts who have thrived during this time and some determined go getters that never let the world get them down who have plugged along with perseverance. But my guess is that most of us are about to emerge hopeful but cautious and a bit wounded.
I’m a recreational therapist and would love to walk through all the domains of function setting physical, social, emotional, cognitive, and spiritual goals with each of you to help you emerge prepared, rested, and renewed. It is going to take intentionality for resiliency. Not sure where to start? Let's talk about wonder, curiosity, and discovery.
Wonder is a natural motivation technique. I use it in my work with people with dementia. Depression and apathy run high while engagement runs low for people with dementia. What I find, is that if I can get engagement running high then depression and apathy run low. Curiosity, wonder, and discovery: these are strategies I use to engage people.
When we feel disconnected from others or God and apathetic, depressed, awkward, or just unmotivated in our lives, marveling in creation can ignite a wonder that will re-engage you.
I can’t lie, I really enjoy being in nature. As a child, the only vacations we could ever really afford were camping ones and I loved them. Green has always been my favorite color because it is the color of trees and grass and bushes. As an undergraduate in college, I backpacked around Colorado for a month to achieve an outdoor recreation concentration. That Master’s of Theological Studies degree that contributed to my ordination as Deacon focused on camping and retreat ministry. We’ve sent our girls to camp every year we could get them to go because I’ve experienced what being on retreat in nature can do for your faith. The value and importance of nature as not been lost on me over the last year either. When I think about it its as if God is often drawing me back to reflect, appreciate, and revel in nature.
Let's admire and marvel in a few amazing aspects of creation together.
Isn’t it wonderful how both the sky and oceans run beautiful shades of blue. Close your eyes for a second and imagine either one. You are alone under a big bright sky or sitting in the sand staring over the ocean to the horizon. Both so vast you can’t truly comprehend their size, but you are some how comforted and at peace. How many pictures of the ocean and horizon and sky have you taken? This is a modern way we marvel and appreciate it.
Scientists are researching grounding effects on the human body. The earth has a negative electrical charge because the earth has a limitless supply of free electrons. Environmental medicine says there is mounting evidence that when we come into direct contact with the earth like walking barefoot or gardening with bare hands or yes, hugging trees we acquire these free electrons that connect with antioxidants and free radicals to reduce inflammation in the body. In the last 100 years we’ve increasingly separated ourselves physically from the earth while we’ve also seen increases in chronic illness, immune and inflammatory disease. Is there a correlation? Some thing so.
Did you know water has different flavors. Pure good, clean water from springs is full of minerals. Most of us are deficient in those minerals now that we drink recycled and filtered water. Those minerals have healing properties. Salt in the ocean heals cuts, skin, and soothes joints and muscles.
We are all aware that vegetation provides the nutrients and vitamins we need to optimally support our body and that plants were the building blocks of modern medicine. But did you know that they can sing!
"In 2012, two artists created a plant quartet by fitting each of the plants with small devices that translated biofeedback into sonic data. The device sat on the leaves like a mini stethoscope and monitored the fluctuations of electrical conductivity on the leaf surface. That data fed into a program that turned the signals into controls for electronic instruments. As the plants frequencies changed according to its environmental changes the sounds changed. The Data Garden Quartet instillation toured performing in arboretum and festivals. The music didn’t just changed based on the space, the dispersion of light, or a breeze through a window. The plants electrical signals also seemed to change sometimes dramatically when a particular person entered or left a room."
Think about the sun, moon, and stars. These run the world don’t they. They mark time, set temperature and seasons, control the tides and balance our moods. The sun is our greatest source of Vitamin D which is needed for balancing calcium and phosphorus, supporting our immune system and brain health and regulating our mood. It kills some harmful bacteria and viruses and it brings the tiniest seeds to sprout up out of the ground.
The moon’s gravitational pull on the earth changes over its 28 day cycle. There is something else that naturally cycles every 28 days. One research study followed 22 menstrating women, discovering 13-17% of them were synced up with the moon. They also hypothesize that if women were exposed to less artificial light and more natural light, that percent would be higher. I also found an article that discussed research showing that people get less sleep leading up to the full moon. This study wasn't isolated to the United States. It included several continents. As big and vast as the night sky and universe is and despite the motion and orbiting of the earth the stars are constant markers.
Think of a coral reef. Really….. how long has been since you thought about a coral reef. They are beautiful. Everything seems to live in harmony. What about a birds nest. Have you ever gotten one of those boxes that suction to your window and watched eggs hatch and baby birds grow? Did you realize that birds are natural warning signals. Birds flee or nestle down when bad weather or other threats are near. If you hear birds chirping all is well in the world.
The human body is fascinating. Each system works together toward optimal functioning, It's made to protect and heal itself. I remember when I was pregnant. I couldn’t believe how my body changed to produce life. One of the things I was most amazed by was how my senses enhanced as protective measures. My sense of smell was off the chart and kept me from going into places with toxins. I didn’t just crave sweets then, I craved foods with nutrients that my body was lacking.
What about nature do you marvel at and appreciate? Did something I shared today catch your interest? Make you wonder?
Marveling at nature reminds us that creation exists as system. It’s a system so divinely intertwined that life as we know it would be completely different if even just one part wasn’t made just so. It also reminds us how fragile each part is. We have infinite wonders to marvel at around us if we just look with curious eyes. I hope your are inspired to wonder, for wonder can be your gateway to joy.
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