When I happened upon Belgian blogger Denzil’s lovely site, I could hardly believe it — I was the first to comment there! Yes, it is new, but it so beautifully filled with joy and heart that I doubt it will remain a secret for long…
I know that walking in my local forest is good for my body. It’s good for my heart – it gets the blood flowing. It’s good for my lungs – it gets the air circulating. It’s good for my muscles – it tones them up.
But good for the soul?
Surely, to refresh my spirit I should head towards my local church or cathedral, not to my local forest?
Don’t get me wrong: if you like to visit a magnificent cathedral to get a spiritual lift, that’s fine. You might be enthralled by the architecture and the stained glass windows. You might be impressed by the flower arrangements. You might marvel at the beautiful sounds of a choir. All of these things might lift your soul and help you see the glory and wonder of the divine – whatever name you give it.
However, for myself, my cathedral is my local forest, with the enormous trunks of ancient beech and oak trees rising up and over my head. With its canopy of green leaves forming the roof. Instead of stained glass windows, I see the delicately painted wings of butterflies and dragonflies. Instead of bouquets and vases of cultivated flowers, I see wild celandines, wood anemones and foxgloves. My choir consists of the sweet warbling of the blackcap, the drumming of a black woodpecker, the bark of the roe deer.
And just as you might enter a cathedral and experience a touch of heaven, I walk in a forest and experience the wonder of creation. And it lifts my spirits.
I’m not one for New Year’s Resolutions. Actually, if you read one of my blog posts, I even recommend postponing them to Spring!
But if you are into resolutions, here’s one you might like to consider.
Resolve to visit your local forest regularly throughout the year – maybe once a week or month. Experience its peace and beauty. Take time to stop and look at the wild flowers. Listen to the birds.
I am sure you will come out with a refreshed and rejuvenated spirit.
Denzil Walton blogs on walking and cycling in Belgium at Discovering Belgium. His new blog is called Life Sentences, which he describes as “random, positive and life-affirming musings on various topics and experiences.”