The Need for Solace in Today's Wired World

We hiked in Sedona and it helped our soul.One of the downfalls of all of our technological progress in the 21st century is this: we have forgotten and neglected the role of nature in the care of the soul. When we work in cube-ville under false lights; when we become so dependent on our iphones and iclouds for information; when our busy lives make going outside a luxury rather than a necessity, we have forgotten what the human soul really needs to thrive and experience resilience. In our forgetting this truth, we put our souls in danger.Sadly counseling, therapy and analysis in many arenas and rooms have down-played, if not minimized and neglected how healing creation is. I’m so glad to help develop a proper place of creation in the care of the soul that actually partners with God in what I would call Divine Therapy. In our work with people, we partner with God through nature, not as an after-thought but core and central to everyone's health and vitality. Every time we pause to walk outside, watch a sunrise or listen to a bird sing, something larger than we can ever really comprehend is happening inside of us. The feedback and results in our work have altered the way we work and given us great fodder to the fire in our understanding of how to practice the care of the soul.Sabbatical, however, was our own time to focus on our care and our much needed resurrection. We needed to practice what we preached and we did just that.John Muir wrote, “I went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found was really going in.” Jesus knew what Muir was attempting to say very well. Most of his teachings, insights and parables were rooted in the teaching points of dirt, seed, animals and landscapes. He used the outside world to reveal the interior makeup of a person’s inner world. When we forget, ignore and disregard this spiritual truth and reality, we then confine ourselves into counseling rooms with closed doors; auditoriums more wired than inspiring and wisdom that his more horizontal than transcendent.Made from clay, the soul requires a clay-like experience to keep us grounded and from thinking too much of ourselves. I’ve never felt more small than when hiking in the Colorado mountains or on the shore of a beach and a powerful lighting storms hits. Stars, lightning and storms seems to put everything into perspective. Nature is a tool to help us become small and humble. This seems to work every time we view a vista, stare at waves or feel the force of a changing tide.One of the greatest mistakes of modern churches is to close up their windows to make room for darkened auditoriums where lights and Powerpoint have center stage. In my understanding of the care of the soul, one of the tremendous weaknesses and inefficiencies of counseling and psychotherapy is this: it all takes place indoors. To care for the soul is to understand that the soul needs to soak in the healing power of sunshine; the cleansing effect of rain, the calming sensation of beauty and power of nature on the outside to reveal what is going on in the inside.This is our home, located on the shoulder of Pikes Peak where we experience the solace of fierce landscapes.This distinguishing hallmark of soul care is so needed in our wired world we are attempting to navigate. Without putting ourselves outside, we are left to ourselves and that limiting and dangerous.While on sabbatical, I made a promise to be outside more than I had been able to in the past year. We sought the solace of fierce landscapes and it made all the difference in us and to us. Because our own need was so great, this past year we moved further out, away from a town and city to continue our own life and work. As I have grown older and perhaps more tired, I needed the balm of God’s love that comes to me through nature.In the first days and weeks of our Sabbatical, I was de-toxing from work, busyness and calendars. I decided to unplug from my wired world by going dark on all forms of social media and email communication. These were necessary steps to help me find my equilibrium which the dizziness of work can cause. I had to work through my fears of unplugging and my need to be needed. I had to withdraw from what was going on around me so that I could find out what was going on inside me. We went to a barrier island for a month; the red rocks of Sedona, Arizona and the pristine peaks of Colorado and we needed each landscape and each perspective we experienced.The care of the soul is more than therapy in that in soul care, one partners with God in and through nature to find restoration and wholeness. Fractured by our busyness, we can and should seek the sacred balm of nature for our well-being. I think it is toxic to be too wired; too "on" and too 24/7. When I choose to go into nature, I honestly believe, I am choosing life--with every step I take. I can feel myself coming back.I believe I am choosing life over death. In my work with busy people, I see this happen to them as well.I have had some time in sabbatical to sit with the lyrics of some of Christendom’s finest songs which use the images of nature to help us understand the world around us and the world within us.As I felt myself coming back to life—to experience a resurrection like that of Lazarus, I turned often to hymns to help me say what I could not find words to say. Here , I simply want to invite you to read the lyrics of but some of these great attempts to articulate the World we live in. By reminding myself of these insights, I found permission to be more out than in. It helped me and I trust by recounting these hymns, you, too will find yourself being ministered to in the upcoming season of enjoying more and more the great outdoors. I’ve added my own note in italics. Perhaps use this slowly and throughout your upcoming time off. Use one of these a day or week and see where this might take you in your soul care:Fairest, Lord JesusFair are the meadows, fairer still the woodlands,Robed in the blooming garb of spring;Jesus is fairer, Jesus is purer,Who makes the woeful heart to sing.Fair is the sunshine,Fairer still the moonlight,And all the twinkling starry host;Jesus shines brighter, Jesus shines purerThan all the angels heaven can boast.Note how the author uses the images of nature to help us understand the Sacred Splendor.How Great Thou Art (Stuart K. Hine)O Lord my God, when I in awesome wonderConsider all the worlds Thy hands have madeI see the stars, I hear the rolling thunderThy power throughout the universe displayed.RefrainThen sings my soul, my Saviour God, to Thee;How great Thou art, how great Thou art!Then sings my soul, my Saviour God, to Thee;How great Thou art, how great Thou art!Second StanzaWhen through the woods and forest glades I wanderAnd hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees,When I look down from lofty mountain grandeur,And hear the brook and feel the gentle breeze.Then sings my soul….In this familiar hymn, the author uses beautiful images of creation to help us understand God’s greatness and majesty.Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee (Henry Van Dyke)All Thy works with joy surround Thee, Earth and heaven reflect Thy rays,Stars and angels sing around Thee, Center of unbroken praise.Field and forest, vale and mountain, Flowery meadow, flashing sea,Chanting bird and flowing fountain, Call us to rejoice in Thee.Here we see that nature is a sacred invitation to praise and worship.This is My Father’s WorldThis is my Father’s world, and to my listening earsAll nature sings, and round me rings The music of the spheres.This is my Father’s world; I rest me in the thoughtOf rocks and trees, of skies and seas, His hand the wonders wrought.This is my Father’s world, The birds their carols raise,The morning light, the lily white, Declare their Maker’s praise.This is my Father’s world; He shines in all that’s fair;In the rustling grass I hear Him pass, He speaks to me everywhere.The solace of God’s creation is an agent of rest and peace.I Sing The Mighty Power Of God (Isaac Watts)I sing the mighty power of God, That made the mountains rise;That spread the flowing seas abroad, and built the lofty skies.I sing the wisdom that ordained The sun to rule the day;The moon shines full at His command, And all the stars obey.I sing the goodness of the Lord, That filled the earth with food;He formed the creatures with His word, And then pronounced them good.Lord, how Thy wonders are displayed, Wherever I turn my eye;If I survey the ground I tread, Or gaze upon the sky!There’s not a plant or flower below, But makes Thy glories known;And clouds arise, and tempests blow, By order from the throne.While all that borrows life from Thee Is ever in Thy care,And everywhere that man can be, Thou, God, art present there.Nature here is a tool that helps construct a theology that is true. Every plant and flower is a tool we can use that helps us know and experience God.Morning Has Broken (Traditional Gaelic melody, Text by Eleanor Farjeon)(Note that all other verses have the theme of creation as aide to praise)Morning has broken Like the first morning,Blackbird has spoken Like the first bird.Praise for the singing! Praise for the morning!Praise for them springing Fresh from the Word!In this lovely hymn we are reminded that all of creation has it’s genesis in God—and his Word.All Creatures Of Our God And King (Francis of Assisi)(Note that all five verses have specific reference to creation as aide to praise)All creatures of our God and King, Lift up your voice and with us singAlleluia, Alleluia!Thou burning sun with golden beam, Thou silver moon with softer gleam,O praise Him, O praise Him, Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia!Writers from all generations have attempted to find words to describe the Indescribable.What is your own experience with finding the solace of fierce landscapes?