Dec 29 2021


I had my annual physical exam a couple of days ago.  After telling my physician about some issues I’ve been having he prescribed a couple of new medications for me.  I am hopeful they will prove beneficial.  I am certainly thankful that we live at a time when there are wonderful medications to help us experience better health. Ironically, shortly before Christmas I received a green T-shirt in the mail that had “Nature-RX” printed on it.  I have no idea who sent me the shirt but I love it.  The shirt will serve as a reminder to me that nature has healing benefits we could all use.

Various studies have revealed a host of benefits from spending time in nature.  These benefits include an increase in happiness, an antidote to stress, anxiety reduction, improved moods, lower blood pressure, enhanced immune system function, a sense of meaning and purpose, and the promotion of cognitive development in children.  Spending time in nature also improves concentration, energy and focus. It even makes a person more giving.  If there was a pill that would do all of this for us I suspect we’d all be asking our doctors for a prescription.   We would even be willing to pay a high price for such a medicine.  Well, in nature we find all this available to us for free and anyone can take advantage of it.

Today we actually know just how much nature is required to reap many of the benefits I’ve mentioned.  A recent study revealed that people who spend two hours a week in green spaces—local parks or other natural environments, either all at once or spread out over several visits—are substantially more likely to report good health and psychological well-being than those who don’t.  Spending just 120 minutes a week outside can do you a world of good! 

I would be negligent if I didn’t also note that there are many spiritual benefits to spending time in nature.  As we get outdoors we have a chance to observe our Creator’s handiwork.  Our spirits get lifted as we admire the beauty of the earth.  We can actually commune with God through nature.  If we will pay close attention we can also learn many spiritual lessons from the natural world.  It is obvious from reading the Gospels that Jesus did just this.  I believe we can likewise find comfort and peace, as well as joy and strength, from time spent with God outdoors.  Viewing beautiful sunrises and sunsets, observing the wonders of the night sky, or paying attention to the flora and fauna around us can draw us closer to God.  Surely spending time in nature ought to be considered a spiritual discipline.  It is something we can all benefit from.

The “Great Physician” has written us a marvelous prescription that will have positive benefits for us physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. I hope we will all be wise enough to take advantage of this prescription in the coming year.  Why not make a New Year’s resolution now to do just that?  Happy New Year and God bless!


Jan 1 2014

Consistency and Change

_CES8101Happy New Year!  2014 arrived just after midnight last night.  From what I have seen and heard many are excited about the arrival of a new year.  Others, it would seem, face the coming twelve months with a bit of fear and trepidation.  Some expect great things to come in 2014 while others expect the worse.  A million people gathered on the streets of New York City last night to party and bring in the new year, while untold millions did the same elsewhere.  Not an insignificant number, myself included, were already nestled in bed and sound asleep before the ball dropped, the horns sounded and everyone kissed.

_CES2906I will confess that the coming of a new year is not a big deal for me.  I think one reason a lot of people do get excited about the dawn of another year is that it represents a new beginning or a second chance.  For me, these are gifts of grace that God offers us each and every day.  This makes a new year less significant for me.  I guess I also lean heavily on the realist side, I know that a new year will no doubt bring some new changes but for the most part it will be more of the same.  Am I wrong about that?

e_CES0395Not just every year but every day we find a mixture of consistency and change.  Nature itself teaches us that.  Every morning the sun rises and each evening the sun sets.  Here we find a perfect example of consistency.  Not all sunrises and sunsets, however, are the same.  Some you do not actually witness due to clouds; others are pretty but not dramatic; while still others are incredibly dramatic.   Another good example from nature is the seasons.  Every year we have winter, spring, summer and autumn.  The sun will mark these by the solstices and equinoxes.  Here we find consistency.  How we experience those seasons each year, however, is not the same.  There will be some degree of variability in rain, snow, wind and/or temperature. This is the change that comes with the seasons.

Just by observing nature I can go out on a limb and make this bold prediction—2014 will be a year filled with consistency and change.  (Just kidding, there’s definitely nothing bold about that prediction but I am still sticking with it.)  What is far more difficult for me to predict is how we will respond to the sameness of life and the changes that will also come along.  It’s hard to predict because these are things each of us have a certain degree of control over.  We will not all respond the same way.

Change of any kind is frightening to a lot of people.  They are quite content with the way things are and change might threaten that contentment.  Such people do everything they can do avoid change.  Others love and are quick to embrace change.  Change brings excitement to their life and some will for this reason deliberately seek out change.  I tend to be more like the former group.  I like living in my comfort zone and am not prone to go seeking change.  Even though this is my tendency, I realize that it may not be the best way to live my life.  I also realize that I do not have to continue to fear or avoid change.  I can choose to live differently.  So can you.

_CES0722We also all have a choice when it comes to dealing with the consistent things in our lives.  Dealing with the consistent elements of life is not something that is often addressed but I feel it should be.  Too many people find that which is consistent boring and monotonous, not worthy of their attention.   We need to be careful that we do not lose our sense of awe and appreciation for those things that are basically the same every day.  If we do, we may find ourselves taking for granted the beautiful earth God has given us and also the people God has placed in our lives.  Thankfully, here too, we get to choose.

I’m not big on making New Year resolutions but if I were to make one today it might be to strive hard in the coming year to celebrate the wonder of it all—both the changing and the unchanging.


(I took all of the pictures in today’s post near my home in Henderson, KY.)