Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Finding Peace In Nature

I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order.  ~John Burroughs

My family and I have been through some of the most difficult trials of our lives over the past eighteen months. We were saddened to experience the loss of a great friend and neighbor, Steve, who had battled colon cancer and passed last February.  In April, my sister Carolyn would be diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer.  She would battle this horrible disease for 7 months before it took her life on October 30th. Watching as she battled this horrible disease was excruciating. To have been there with the rest of my sisters and our families as she took her last breath was the most gut wrenching experience of my life. But I am glad we were all there for her and had that closure. In the midst of this, I was trying to keep my world from falling apart around me.  My husband would be hospitalized 3 times, once with a mild heart attack. My daughter Sara and her boyfriend were in a car accident, leaving Sara with a broken ankle, followed by the loss of her job.  My son broke his hand and required surgery to insert pins. My mother and her husband both became gravely ill and were hospitalized.  Mom endured several life and limb saving procedures and suffered many complications and set backs, spent two months in the hospital, followed by 6 weeks in a rehabilitation facility.  Her husband became fatally ill during this time and passed away on February 20th.  A few weeks later, we would be dealt another blow.  A very close friend, my husband's best friend of 25 years suffered a massive heart attack and passed away. Mom would continue to battle illness, but eventually became well enough to go home in April and things would finally settle down.

Grief, anger and frustration had become all too common during this past year and I have frequently wanted to crawl into a hole and disappear. To say the least, I was almost completely physically and emotionally drained.  I feared at times I would fall into a deep depression.  But I managed to keep my mental well being in check by making time to escape to one of my favorite local nature preserves to take long walks and clear my head.

The best therapy I have found for me is what I like to call "nature therapy".  I am not what you would call a really religious person, but I do consider myself to be a spiritual person.  I feel closest to God and most at peace when I am outdoors. While I'm walking along a trail through a forest, I am meditating, praying, talking to God, sometimes even talking to myself. It is how I clear my head and calm my spirit. Sometimes I just stop and listen to the wind gently blowing through the trees, a woodpecker hammering away in the top of a tree, the ospreys and hawks screeching as they fly just over the tree tops and squirrels chattering to each other or scurrying around the forest floor in search of nuts. I can stop and sit on a bench by a stream and enjoy the sound of the water as it flows through the forest.

I am at peace in places like this and it is all I can do to pull myself away.  These walks have helped me to find some peace amid all the turmoil over these past months.  I can go back and face each situation with a clear head and a little more perspective.   

           Lose yourself in nature and find peace.

The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quiet, alone with the heavens, nature and God. Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be and that God wishes to see people happy, amidst the simple beauty of nature.
Anne Frank