A Bit of Nature Therapy

We needed a break.

This year has been..shall we say…challenging. The obvious villain has been the pandemic: Five of our close family members are down with the COVID, or recently recovered. But even for those of us who haven’t caught the bug, it has made an impact: We have all been stuck at home more than ever, as our usual haunts are limited, or shut down. Our go-to places for peace – church and temples- have been off-limits or limited. Work has been challenging, with lots of changes.

As it has been for me, I’m sure many of you have had an especially stressful and challenging year, and it wears on you. Stress and fatigue battle against apathy and irritation, and they all come up winners. Election? That doesn’t help either.

I decided my EC and I needed to take a break, and I figured this time, we should go on a search for peace and beauty – and we did.

Last week found us in a rental car, driving the backroads of New England, enjoying the glory of the Fall foliage. It was wonderful. God surely knew what He was doing when he added those amazing chemical reactions that cause trees to release a fury of gorgeous color before they go dormant.

We drove through parts of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont and Massachusetts, most of the time with our mouths hanging open. So much beauty! We would stop whenever we felt like it and go for walks, or take pictures. Even the one rainy day had a different beauty all its own.

After a couple of days, I started to feel a little a little better – then pretty darn good. I wasn’t sure if it was just that I was playing hooky from work and ‘real life,’ or if there was something more to it. So, one night while we were hanging out, I cracked open the laptop and looked.

I immediately found a link to an article in The Guardian from last year: “Two Hour ‘dose’ of nature significantly boosts health – study.”

Researchers basically came to the conclusion that spending time outside can really make a difference in our mental and physical health. I think that is what I was experiencing – in direct contrast with being stuck at home watching too much TV.

They even went on to explain that there is an amount of nature that we have to hit to make a difference in our health: 120 minutes per week. Less than that doesn’t make much of an impact. That works out to only 2 hours a week – and that it can be 20 minutes for six days, or two hours all at once. Doesn’t matter.

One of the scientists suggested, “Most people are under multiple pressures at any given time. So you go away in a natural setting, it is quiet, it is relaxing and it gives you time to start to process things.”

Is it any surprise that the boy prophet Joseph Smith went into a grove of trees to speak to God? Moses went to the wilderness, and to the mountain, as did Christ.

Actually, Jesus was pro-vacation.

Let me set it up for you…  In Mark, chapter 6, we read about how Jesus called the twelve Apostles, and sent them forth two-by-two to teach the gospel. They got right after it and taught repentance, cast out devils, and healed the sick – just like the Savior had instructed them. (Mark 6:7, 12-13)

Later, the Apostles and the Savior reunited, and the Apostles told Jesus about all the great things they had been able to do. (Mark 6:30)  That’s when Jesus had an idea:

“And he said unto them, Come ye yourselves apart into a desert (private) place, and rest for a while: for there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat.” (Mark 6:31)

Private, rest, leisure?  Those are vacation words. (Have you ever been so busy that you didn’t have time to eat?  Yep, me too.)

So they boarded a boat to go get some peace and quiet, but the people figured out where they were headed, and beat them there. And there were a lot of them. Thousands. But Christ, true to His nature, felt compassion on the crowds and began to teach them.

The Apostles saw their vacation going down the drain, and approached the Savior and said “This is a desert place, and now the time is far passed. Send them away…for they have nothing to eat.” (Mark 6:35-36)

But Christ was merciful and performed a mighty miracle: He fed the five thousand men, not to mention the women and children.

Back to the vacation:  He then told the Apostles to get back in the boat and cross over to a different place, while He took care of sending the people back to their homes.

Christ then went up the mountain for some of His own private time, but from the mountain He could see that the Apostles were in trouble – they were struggling, the wind was blowing in the wrong direction, and by now it was after 3:00 in the morning. (I’ve had vacations like that.) Finally, Jesus walked out on the water to help them. The winds ceased when he entered the boat.

When they got to the shore, the crowds returned, and it was back to business.  Neither the Savior nor His Apostles got their much needed break. Thankfully, someone thought to record these miraculous thing. We often hear about the feeding of the 5000, and Christ walking on the water – but we never hear it in the context of what they were actually trying to do at the time – take a vacation!

Anyway, getaways in nature are good for my soul. They reinvigorate me. They remind me of how glorious God’s creations can be. They remind me to be grateful ‘for the beauty of the earth.’

Funny how colored leaves can heal a troubled soul. I must also add that the break gave me some peace as I entered into what turned out to be a rather stressful week, this past week.

I am grateful and in awe of the Lord’s kindness. I have included a few pics I took on my phone so you could get an idea.

It is a beautiful world.

A lake in New Hampshire
A tree by the side of the road in Maine
A Christmas tree farm in Vermont
One of my favorite places; The Joseph Smith Birthplace Memorial in Sharon, Vermont. The last Church history location on my bucket list.

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Comments

  1. My husband and I drove through New England in 2007, I can’t believe that was 13 years ago. We were planning to spend this summer in Europe where I grew up visiting my family and going sightseeing with my twins that graduated from High School this year. Of course that whole trip had to be cancelled. Like you, we badly needed a break so we went on a family road trip through 7 Southern states, hiking in the Smoky Mountains and then driving from the Blue Ridge Mountains to Southern Louisiana. There are so many beautiful places in the US I had never seen, so worth it.

  2. Autumn is the only time of year I’m homesick for New England. Thank you for sharing. I love where I live now, but there is nothing like the Autumn leaves in New England!

  3. Beautiful post! Since you mentioned your Church History bucket list, my Hubby and I made a point to visit the Sacred Grove in each of the four seasons. Every time of year has its own special feeling/sacredness. Highly recommend!

    1. We found out that we were moving to Upstate NY in December. So, we packed up our kids and went house hunting over spring break. We spent the night near palmyra and woke up to 10 inches of snow! My children’s first experience at the sacred grove had no trail and that Uber-dampened stillness that comes with new snow.
      On topic— my oldest lives near Boston. We usually go out in the summer or for Christmas. We keep trying to make it in the fall again. Now that my EC is not working (due to our move to UT). Maybe this is the year!!!

  4. My friend Mike H. shared your posts a few years ago, and since then I have been a lurker.
    Thank you for the Conference notes, and today’s Fall post and photos.
    I am glad you and your EC were able to get away.

  5. Wow – those pictures are amazing and I felt a peaceful feeling just looking at them even if I wasn’t outside. It helps that Sharon is also one of my favorite holy places. Thank you.

  6. Fall is my favorite…thank you for sharing the pictures! Hoping this week will not be as stressful for you.

  7. My sister and I spent three heavenly weeks in Vermont in October 2018. It was glorious and peaceful. Just what we had hoped for.

    Thank you for including a picture of the Joseph Smith birth place. When I was a little girl they had lillies and frogs in the pond around the monument. The lillies have been gone a long time but the sacred feelings remain.

  8. Wonderful teachings! As we follow the example of the Savior! We can and will have unity and peace! He has shown us the way to follow!♥️🙏

  9. I love fall. We lived more than half of our life where fall colors brought peace (and some communal raking). There is nothing more resplendent than peace in nature. While riding my bike yesterday, I came up a large Harris Hawk standing in water (they were irrigating the field). He jumped on a fence as I passed. He had returned to the water when I was returning. Nature surely soothes and brings joy.

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