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Posts Tagged ‘restoration’

 

Many of us have endured lots of rain this spring, but the payoff has been worth it. On our little hillside, tightly compacted foliage now covers trees and shrubs. Hearty blades of grass press thickly together like subway travelers at rush hour. The whole landscape is so green, you’d think we lived on the Emerald Isle.

 

(Trees and shrubs behind our house.  ‘Wish the light was better,

but it’s another day of clouds and  rain.)

 

Close inspection reveals, however, that spring foliage comes in many more shades of green than emerald.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Isn’t green a glorious color? No matter the shade, there’s something about green that breathes restoration and life into our beings.

Researchers have studied the response of the body when a person is surrounded by a particular color. Green causes muscles to relax and blood vessels to dilate. Therefore, it has a calming effect and lowers stress.

The positive effects of green are even more pronounced when we get outdoors. Studies have shown that such capacities as short-term memory, mental energy, creativity and concentration all improve after time spent in nature. Even five minutes can produce positive effects.

 

 

Researchers are even discovering restorative responses in the body after a person has been outdoors. For example, inflammation decreases, nearsightedness is less pronounced, and the immune system improves.

What do you suppose accounts for all those benefits? Perhaps God intentionally designed his creation (at least in part) to provide restoration of body, soul, and spirit–for us.

 

 

The challenge is getting out there. Too often I’ve allowed indoor tasks and activities to take precedence over sitting on the deck or taking a walk.

And once situated on the deck or strolling in the neighborhood, I need to take note of my surroundings. If my mind is preoccupied with the to-do list or troubling concerns, restoration is not going to happen. I have to pay attention.

How?

Engage the senses.

 

 

  • Take note of the light dappling the foliage.
  • Listen to the breezes whisper among the evergreens.
  • Fill the lungs with pure air cleansed by flourishing, CO2-breathing trees.
  • Touch the cool, curled edges of the geranium leaves.

 

 

Experience the wonder.

  • Limbs and gentle winds join in an intermittent dance.
  • Leaves bob and sway.
  • Treetops enthusiastically participate; creek bed foliage plays the wallflower, quiet and still.
  • Sun glints through the woods, creating a spotlight effect on some branches. Others are draped in deep, green-black shadow.

 

 

And the most important step of all:

 

Express gratitude.

 

I thank you, Father, for the gift of greenery, the grandeur of stately trees, the delight of shapely leaves, the peaceful calm of an open field or forest temple.

 

 

I thank you for the lessons they teach—reminders to grow our roots deep into your love (Ephesians 3:17), to be watered by your Word (Psalm 1:2-3), and to live in the Light of your Son, Jesus (John 8:12).

 

 

It’s not just the infinite heavens that declare your glory and display your wisdom and power (Psalm 19:1). Even the minutest of plants offers evidence of your splendor and artistry.

 

 

The whole of nature is your living room, God, and I humbly thank you for the precious privilege of meeting you there.

 

  

(“Nature is God’s living room,” a Michael Hyatt creative expression.)

 

Photo credits:  www.pexels.com; Nancy Ruegg (3), http://www.maxpixel.freegreatpicture.com; http://www.pexels.com; Nancy Ruegg; http://www.pexels.com (2), http://www.publicdomainpictures.net; geograph.org.uk; http://www.maxpixels.freegreatpicture.com; http://www.pexels.com; http://www.maxpixel.freegreatpicture.com; http://www.pexels.com.

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After more than a week of full-blown cold symptoms—painful sore throat, totally stuffed-up nose, throbbing headache, and complete lack of energy–I finally woke up feeling more like my old self.

Such euphoria!  I could swallow without pain, take in glorious gulps of air through my nose, and function without the tight hat of sinus pressure on my head or the virtual suit of heavy armor on my body.  Throat, nose, head, and limbs were once again operating in unified wholeness!

But what if I still carried deep heartache, suffered from depression, or continually dealt with on-going stress at work? Relief of cold symptoms would be a small matter by comparison.

Unified wholeness must include mind and spirit as well as body.

This was the kind of completeness Jesus was referring to when he told a healed leper, “Arise, go your way: your faith has made you whole (Luke 17:19, King James 2000 Bible).

 

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You no doubt remember him, the one-out-of-ten healed lepers who took an extra step beyond healing, returned to Jesus, and expressed his gratitude.

Such effort demonstrated a spirit of humility and righteousness as he set aside his own agenda and did the right thing. His faith had impacted his body, yes, but also his mind and spirit.

The leper’s wholeness* manifested holiness—not perfection or proud piousness—but completeness and health of the total person as God fully intended.

Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881) explained it like this:

“The old word for holy in the German language, heilig, also means healthy. And so Heilbronn means holy-well, or healthy-well. You could not get any better definition of what holy really is than healthy—completely healthy.”

Wholeness is holiness, and God is our example. He is the picture of complete perfection with the sum of his glorious attributes: love, joy, peace, wisdom, and more.

By contrast, we are pictures of imperfection, with our deficient condition and inability to perfect ourselves on our own.

Yet God comes to us, arms outstretched in welcome, and says, “Your faith can make you whole.” We can turn to him like that one leper did, and he will begin the work of making us like him.

 

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Oh, that sounds wonderful! Just as I desperately want to be made whole when a cold wreaks havoc in my body, so I want to be made whole as sin wreaks havoc in my spirit.

But such transformation involves choices.

During a cold, the choices of rest and plenty of fluids will speed the healing process toward wholeness.

My mental and spiritual wholeness this side of heaven will also require at least two choices:

 

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  1. “Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always” (1 Chronicles 16:11, NIV).
  1. Distill the positive out of the negative—goodness out of evil, peace out of pain, joy out of sorrow.

 

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And from the fullness of Jesus’ grace we will receive one blessing after another (John 1:16)—beginning with his power and wisdom to make these sound choices toward wholeness.

 

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

 

Oh Father, sound choices are easy to talk about, not so easy to live out. Remind me that from your wholeness, you provide grace upon grace—if only I look to you. Help me turn away from fear, self-pity, and anger, which lead to brokenness, not wholeness. How I praise you for your good will toward me and the good work of restoration you continue to develop within me!

 

*Synonyms from Webster’s New College Dictionary include: health, restoration, healing, and completeness.

 

(Art & photo credits:  www.families.com; http://www.youtube.com; http://www.verseoftheday.com; http://www.ourdailyblossom.com; http://www.verseoftheday.com.)

 

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