nature: its ability to calm and heal our souls

nature - its ability to calm and heal our souls - robin on grass (C) joylenton @poetryjoy.com

Few sights are as cheering to winter-weary hearts than spotting a red-breasted robin in the garden. They are welcome visitors who cannot help but make us smile because of their lively hue and perky hopping.

In the English countryside, robins feature heavily in our sightings for large parts of the year. They’ve also inspired today’s poem, which was prompted by thoughts of my daughter-in-law.

She’s a keen gardener who often finds solace (and a necessary distraction from her busy business life) when she’s outside, getting her hands dirty with tasks. Being in touch with living plants helps shift vestiges of SAD-induced sadness in her heart.

The robin

Water-logged and rimed with frost,
sodden leaves get trodden underfoot
as she makes her way across
the uneven garden path.

Her heart sinks as low as her boots
as she contemplates the work
before her—clearing cluttered ground,
preparing for winter to fully come.

As her spade sinks in, she glances
up and sees a robin hopping
around, close by but no longer
shy or uncertain, more a bold thing.

She smiles at her avian
companion, who had graced
the garden in summertime
with brief glimpses now and then.

No longer intent on nest building
or family, she hops contentedly,
pausing to check on her human
friend who she converses with.

Maybe this is no coincidence
in these colder months, with their
depressing, darkening days and drizzle,
that she would appear by chance.

Perhaps there’s hidden symbolism
here, as her furry friend is known
to signal spiritual rebirth,
the new, divine, and the next.

Work stops for now as her mind
follows that thought, making space
for a sign from God to lift her
heart in these chilly wintry months.
© joylenton

We each try to find a way to help alleviate the darkness that can inhabit our hearts. Sometimes, just reading about nature helps. I’m dipping into ‘The Wild Remedy: How Nature Mends Us – A Diary’ by Emma Mitchell and finding it comforting.

I know I feel so much better when I can get outside, even briefly, and surround myself with nature’s natural sedative, calming effects, instead of sitting indoors brooding about my problems.

nature - countryside - grass - sky - trees - natural sedative effects quote (C) joylenton @poetryjoy.com

Also, looking out the window or watching nature programmes is enough to temporarily plug the “craving to be outside” gap which M.E and chronic illness tend to leave in their wake.

While many of us in the northern hemisphere struggle with wintry ills and chills, may we aim to encourage ourselves with remembrance of God’s faithfulness to us in the past. Let’s keep signs of spring and flames of hope alive in our hearts. Because that’s how we survive and thrive during hard times.

May listening to this robin singing help make you smile, and give you hope that winter’s grip on your environment  or mind will ease soon. 🙂

How have you experienced nature’s calming or healing effects? Do share in the comments below... ❤

nature - robin on a fence - Let’s keep signs of spring quote (C) joylenton @poetryjoy.com

slow: heart work that reaps benefits

“As I live and move and have my being today, show me where you are. Keep my ears attuned toward your voice. Open my eyes to your activity in my life. Help me slow down enough to experience you in the mundane.” — Jesus Every Day: A Journey Through the Bible in One Year by Mary DeMuth

Heart work

Discipline of the heart
sounds like it could be harsh,
but what if it involves a slower pace
and heightened awareness?

Could you and I learn
to discern when it pays us
to cease from our activity,
to be still and quiet, at peace?

Might a letting go of busyness
be a hidden blessing for us,
and just what the doctor
ordered for our harassed hearts?

I believe it is definitely
a great soul benefit
to release our pain, our hurts,
and to freely cast our cares.

We can pause at intervals
throughout the day,
microseconds maybe
where we stop and pray.

It could become second
nature to us as we reap
soul rest and peace, coupled with
the rewards of receiving grace.

We might discover we are also
less inclined to stress about this
and that, if we desist and find
we become more centred and calm.

It would deepen and strengthen
our relationship with God, and with
one another, as we learnt how to
honour the hours and sense his love.
© joylenton

“My strength comes in quietness, in those unseen places where I refuel with you…. In my weariness, thank you for showing me again that every other avenue of help is lifeless. Only you bring genuine rest and life.” – Jesus Every Day: A Journey Through the Bible in One Year by Mary DeMuth

slow - swans on a lake at sunset - heart work poem excerpt (C) joylenton @poetryjoy.com

PS: if you’d like to know more about the spiritually mindful practice of slowing down, this post might help. 🙂