Another nature lover seeking nourishment from trees

Recently I found a passage in a book that startled me. It described how some Native Americans, when ill, would seek out pine trees and stand beside them, soaking in their “energy.”

What surprised me was not that people did this, but how well I understood what drove them out into the trees. A few years back, when I was recovering from one of my several cancer surgeries, I noticed within myself a deep yearning to spend time in the tree-rich mountains. It was a feeling as strong as physical hunger.

I have spoken with other people recovering from various illnesses who have felt the same longing. I even mentioned it to an outdoor educator and ecopsychologist who confirmed that many people experience a longing for nature when ill.

Several scientific studies have been conducted that have found that hospital patients tend to recover quicker (and need less pain medication) when they are placed near a window with a view of trees or other natural scenery. Even looking at artwork depicting nature scenes seems to have a positive effect.

Since my illness I have deliberately sought to bring myself into contact with nature much more often. I take walks outdoors, in a park, whenever possible, even if it means getting out early, before the heat of the summer day. I photograph as many natural scenes as I can so that when I have to be indoors I can still look at God’s creation. I turn these photos into screen savers and wallpaper for my computer and phone so that I can take frequent nature breaks throughout the day.

I try to surround myself with the sounds of nature too. I set up bird feeders in my backyard so I can delight my ears with birdsong first thing in the morning. I listen to babbling brooks on Mp3s.

I’m not claiming that spending time in nature cures disease, but it sure makes me feel better. Looking at the handiwork of the One who created me nourishes my soul.

How about you? Any positive natural experiences to share with other readers? How do you connect with nature?

Next week: How to Drink Your Veggies without a Blender or Juicer (and why you might want to)