You have perhaps missed updates to Janie Halteman's "Glimpses of Healing and Hope" blog post these last 6 weeks. In late January, Janie had a stroke that affected the right side of her body. For the time being this has limited her capacity to write. We are pleased to report, however, that she is doing well in rehabilitation. Each week she is making progress. We hope that at some point in the future she may be able to contribute again to "Glimpses." In the meantime, we are identifying some others at Kern Road Mennonite who will be able to write with the hope of keeping Janie's readers interested and inspired. We hope you enjoy these. We also invite you to offer a prayer for Janie as she works with new life challenges and realities. Pastor Dave Sutter, Kern Road Mennonite
by Tom Lehman
I’m one who needs regular contact with nature. When I’m outdoors, I can feel tensions seep away, and am renewed and refreshed. I feel I’m in the presence of something larger, something caring, something sacred.
Richard Rohr, whose daily meditations are an important resource for my spiritual journey, recently spent a week discussing Creation. Citing Paul in Romans 1:20 (For what can be known about God is plain . . . because God has made it plain. . . . Ever since the creation of the world, God’s invisible nature, namely, God’s eternal power and deity, have been there for the mind to see in the things that God has made.), Rohr says that
“The first act of divine revelation is creation itself. Thus, nature is the first Bible, written approximately 14 billion years before the Bible of words. God initially speaks through what is, as the Apostle Paul affirms above, before humans write words about God or from God.”
In February I spent a week kayaking in Florida with a couple of friends, a trip I’ve made three years in a row now. As much as I enjoy paddling on local rivers and creeks, Florida rivers are a special treat. Often spring-fed, with crystal clear water, the river ecosystem supports a large variety of wildlife and a wild profusion of birds: fish, alligators, manatees, pelicans, herons, cormorants, storks, ibises and many more.
On this last trip, I saw, while paddling, two creatures I hadn’t known existed before: a needle fish and a purple gallinule. Seeing them -- that impossibly long, thin fish and the clown colored bird -- made me think that the Creator must have a sense of humor and whimsy. How could Creation not be good? Out in nature I often have the feeling that I, along with every other creature, have been given a fantastic gift, beyond full understanding and appreciation.
For me, being in nature is an antidote for depression and worry. In spite of the latest craziness in Washington or elsewhere, the sun still shines, plants grow, and rivers flow.
According to public health researchers Stramatakis and Mitchell, being in nature can reduce anger, fear, and stress and increase pleasant feelings. It makes you feel better emotionally, and contributes to your physical wellbeing, by reducing blood pressure, heart rate, muscle tension, and the production of stress hormones.
How do you connect with nature? There are many ways, from looking out the window at trees or gardens, stepping outside and taking a deep breath, a walk around the block, to a half-day hike in the woods or a week-long camping trip. Any of these, I believe, can serve to connect us to the larger reality of the universe.
Needle fish photo credit: Flickr, SEFSC Pascagoula Laboratory; Collection of Brandi Noble, NOAA/NMFS/SEFSC
Purple gallimule credit: Flickr, Barloventomagico