Isn’t it interesting right about now your lifestyle is changing drastically? Life has slowed down; these certainly are strange times and these times don’t seem to be changing any time soon. It’s an opportune time for us to stop - reflect, rest and relax. In many ways we are forced to slow down, take a look at what’s really important to us. During this strange and unusual time many of us are not able to attend our regular worship services. So what can we do to make the connection between this pandemic time and our Spirit?
We can be outside and it’s a perfect time to connect with the natural order of life, the Spirit in the natural world. What exactly can we do to make these connections?
# 1 – Unplug the TV –
Next time you’re sitting in front of the TV, slouched in the chair or sofa, your mind blank with the hours of viewing time, turn it off and ask yourself, Is this giving me energy? While there are many rich, valuable and fun shows on TV, the fact remains watching it does nothing for our soul. If you do decide to unplug and you have children make sure you have supplies on hand to encourage creative activities that will change behavior. For more information on the effects of TV on your brain read https://www.healthline.com/health-news/binge-watching-tv-can-dull-your-brain
#2 – Swim in Natural Water –
I mean water with an earthen bottom, a lake, a bayou, a bay, the Gulf of Mexico, oceans, or the sea. Our lives begin in water, so when we need nurturing and relaxation we go to the beach where we experience a time close to the Soul. Because our bodies are made up of mostly water it is necessary to experience it in all forms. Relaxing in it is just one way of reconnecting with the experience of our creation.
# 3 – Gaze into the Night Sky –
Find a clear night, pull out an old quilt or throw and look up at the summer sky. This is a wonderful family event and a way to open meaningful conversations with your children about God and our place in this vast Universe. You can even do some research prior to your outing discovering the uniqueness of stargazing at https://www.tpl.org/blog/7-tips-city-stargazing-chicagoparkastronomergclid=CjwKCAjwrKr8BRB_EiwA7eFappX_jDinsBCkXJYBbxuShrRxD5BwGScmle5YjHf1jX8cE11n02VslxoCtwEQAvD_BwE
# 4 – Visit a Butterfly Garden –
Butterfly gardens are beautiful and calming while the butterflies serve as pollinators of our environment. In Louisiana, we have several gardens with vast educational resources. Just 4.5 hours away we have the Catahoula Hummingbird and Butterfly Garden in Bentley, LA. This is a cooperative project between volunteers and the Forest Service. It’s a great place to relax and watch butterflies, hummingbirds and other song birds. You might try searching “Butterfly gardens near me” to find gardens in your own area.
# 5 – Walk Barefoot –
Reconnect with the Earth and the sanctity of this wonderful world where we live by walking on it barefoot. In the book of Exodus God spoke to Moses saying, “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground”. The Earth and the Universe represent all of God’s creations and therefore, all is holy. Experience this connection with the Spirit by walking barefoot in the yard or whenever possible. Be careful and take cautions against injury.
# 6 – Sit under a great tree –
In Louisiana, we have many great trees, old Oaks that have been on this earth for hundreds of years. You may be lucky enough to have one of these old Oaks in your own yard, but if not, look around your town they are everywhere. Find one and spend the afternoon sitting and listening, that old tree has been around longer than many of us, imagine the stories the tree could tell.
One of my favorite Oaks is located on Jefferson Island, LA at Rip Van Winkle Gardens. The Cleveland Oak is a majestic Oak where it is said President Grover Cleveland sat during his visit to the Island in the late 1800’s. Oh! The stories that tree could weave.
# 7 – Ponder your “Burn Out” –
As you sit on the beach, stargaze, sit under the Oak, or watch the butterflies in the garden take some time to ponder how far you’ve come in life and face the flames burning out in your own life. When we hear “Burn Out” we think of something that needs to be changed. Think about it in terms of being a part of the natural balance of life, an ending of a period of intense work and an opportunity to begin again. Think about ways you might ritualize this ending and beginning anew of your energy sources.
Above all take time during this strange time for the 3 R’s – Rest, Relax, and Reflect.