My Love Of A Forest Bath

 

Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad; let the sea resound and all that is in it; let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them. Then all the trees of the forest will sing for joy. ~Psalm 96.11-12

In Japan there is a ritual called shinrin-yoku, also known as ‘forest bathing,’ Nope, it is not running naked through the woods hoping that the dew falling from the branches would wash you clean. (Or am I the only one who thought that it might be that?)

The actual translation is ‘taking in the forest atmosphere.’ It’s the practice of taking a purposeful walk in the woods, a moving meditation. Evidently, it hasn’t been around too long in Japan, at least as an ‘official’ therapeutic practice for relief of stress.

For many, like me, who have been taking their ‘walk in the woods’ seriously and routinely for years, it’s fun to put a new name to it. It’s also fun to know that something that has personally worked for decades will actually be prescribed for others who could really benefit from it.

For me, it’s a meditation. Not the silent or even ‘ommming’ type of meditation. My ‘forest bath’ has noise and movement in it, alive and pulsating with distractions. Yet, it’s the most peaceful and calming place to me because in it, I feel the presence of my God. It’s never a solo event. He is there.

It is here, in the noise and clamor of His creation, that I find His silence where I can hear Him most clearly. It is here that I find clarity in His answers and His direction and His love. It seems sometimes that my walking movement is moving me closer to Him, that my motion is part of my effort to work things through.

It is here, in the center of the distractions of birds and bugs and squirrels and the distant hum of traffic, that I have taken my saddest moments, my happiest thoughts, my hardest questions and laid them out – in all their pleasantness and ugliness and pain and joy – before my Father.

Take everything to God in prayer. ~Philippians 4.6

The grief of my sister’s death. The happiness of the first grandchild’s birth. The confusion of finding a new church home. The love of my husband even in the wake of my unkindness. The sadness caused by a friend who scorned me. The battle to understand the paradoxes of Scripture. The wonder of His un-understandable peace in times of turmoil. The battle for patience and wisdom – and most of all – humility in the thick of leadership.

In all of it, God has never disappointed, with answers sometimes quick and clear. More often, they were not, taking me weeks or months or longer to grasp what He was trying to let me know. Yet with each step on that path, shaded by the trees, surrounded by the nature that He painted with His own brush, I find exactly what I need, even when I didn’t know I needed it.

I have learned one big lesson from my years of forest bathing. And it is this: God is ever-faithful to honor my notice of Him. And I rarely fail to notice Him when I am bathing in His creation.

Come near to God, and He will come near to you. ~James 4.8

 

Grace & Such strives to advance Christian growth among women. While we believe the Bible is the inspired Word of God, we also recognize human interpretations are imperfect. Grace & Such encourages our readers to open their Bibles, pray for wisdom and study for themselves what the Word says. For more about who we are, please visit the About Us page.
Diane Karchner

Diane Karchner

Owner at Being Gram
Diane Karchner. Wife. Mom. Gram. Aunt. Writer. Retiree. Gardener. Beach Lover. Faith Tripper. Blogging at Being Gram about navigating the changes of being a grandmother and retiring as a Baby Boomer aficionada.
Diane Karchner

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5 thoughts on “My Love Of A Forest Bath

  1. Rebecca Preston

    Love the name “forest bathing”! I know exactly what you mean, there is something about the quiet amidst the cacophony of nature that is incredibly soothing and enlightening. Thanks for this, Diane!

    Reply

    1. Diane Karchner

      I knew you would ‘get this’ Becky!! Love my walks in the woods!

      Reply

  2. Gretchen Hanna

    Absolutely beautiful words, Diane.

    “It is here, in the noise and clamor of His creation, that I find His silence where I can hear Him most clearly. It is here that I find clarity in His answers and His direction and His love. It seems sometimes that my walking movement is moving me closer to Him, that my motion is part of my effort to work things through.”

    My friend’s pastor called these times/places “thin places”. In other words, I’m not sure God is any closer to us in nature than in the mundane daily, but WE who bathe in nature’s best feel closer to Him. It’s as if the air is thinner between us and God.

    For me, this is walking the beach (any beach), and searching for sea glass as I breathe in the salty air and watch for seals/whales/birds/and crabby critters under rocks. <3

    Reply

    1. Diane Karchner

      Gretchen – I too find this same kind of solace at the beach. The steadiness of the waves…oh my! Just gives me a breath of air in my lungs as I wrote that!! I like that phrase ‘thin places’

      Reply

  3. Diane Tarantini

    This post is beautiful, Diane. I LOVE it. Especially these words: “The wonder of His un-understandable peace in times of turmoil.” And these: “God is ever-faithful to honor my notice of Him.” Great thoughts. Thank you!

    Reply

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