The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quite 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. As longs as this exists, and it certainly always will, I know that then there will always be comfort for every sorrow, whatever the circumstances may be. And I firmly believe that nature brings solace in all troubles. – Anne Frank
We live in an era in which we are increasingly connected to everyone and everything, but not to ourselves. The modern conveniences that we have been given have left us more estranged from ourselves than ever before. We are busy working and taking care of our families. Taking time for ourselves to rest and to heal emotionally, psychologically and physically is often last on our list. Days, months and even years go by before something brings us to a screeching halt and we find ourselves tired, wounded and trying to figure out how to come back to life. That has happened several times throughout my life. I have had to learn how to heal to survive and to live fully. I don’t want to be walking around with dry bones and a dry spirit. That is living without hope.
Shortly after the birth of my youngest child, I knew I had to find something for myself. Something I could call my own. There was a feeling of restlessness in my spirit. I don’t even recall now what it was that drew me to kayaking. I had no idea that kayaking was going to become such a part of me. In the early years when my children were small, my trips were short, few and far between. Now they are older and it is easier for me to find the time to get away. Every so often I need to take time to heal and recharge – to connect with water.
Today I went to the river. It was the first time since last fall. I carefully stepped into my kayak and pushed off slowly with my paddle (besides, read here about the right process in buying a paddle board). I decided to head up stream. The first time my paddle sliced through the surface of the water, I was struck by the sound. Water trickled down the paddle and onto my leg. Each move I made grounded me in the moment. It is the same thing every year. It is like I have never been on the water before. My senses were sharp and overloaded as I was reintroduced to the sights and sounds around me. I slowly began to paddle up stream and tried to recall what was around each bend. Spring in the north isn’t particularly beautiful. The trees are brown and not yet their lush summer green. The tall grass along the shore is dry and pale and it rustles in the breeze. Yet, I marveled at the life I saw springing up around me. Turtles sunned themselves on rocks along the shore. I smiled at the sight. I floated underneath an old tree leaning over the water. I thought I should make something similar on my own backyard, I saw the pictures at firstcalltreeservices.com – the lawn or garden can turn into a fairy tale. I bent my head back and took in the little red buds upon the branches.
The silence was almost deafening. The only thing I heard were the birds chirping and the ducks occasionally protesting when I would pass by. Way up high in a bare tree I spotted an abandoned nest. After an hour or so, I decided to turn back. I leaned back and closed my eyes as my kayak drifted along back down stream. The warm wind felt foreign on my cheek. I was passing from winter into spring. I felt alive. I felt all of the tension and troubles of the past few months slipping off and into the water. Winter is gone. Summer is near. As I returned to shore I stepped into the water with rolled up pants. It was frigid this time of year. My feet felt cold for a long time after. I was surprised that even that brought me a feeling of being whole and in the present.
There is healing in this ritual of mine. There is nothing like gliding so close to the water. It is becoming one with the water. As I connect with nature, I connect to self. Paddling along I am able to think clearly and allow myself to feel. Often I will wrestle with my thoughts and emotions until there is a sense of peace. It is a safe place. Nature is the only thing other then my faith that has brought me such powerful healing and peace. I can allow myself to let go of the things I can’t change. It is where I can look tragedy in the face and tell it that I will not let it overcome me. I can be real. And I can connect authentically with my God.
I find myself thinking a lot about healing these days. Maybe it is because I have had to spend a lot of time these past few years attempting to heal. It doesn’t happen overnight. You have to diligently continue to move forward and take one day at a time. There is no quick or magical formula when it comes to the healing process. We all have our own unique ways of dealing with our pain. For me nature has been a big part of it through kayaking and other outdoor hobbies I have. One does not have to go far though to find connection with nature. It can be as simple as walking out your back door, standing with bare feet in the grass and looking up at the stars in the sky. If it has been some time since you have done that, try it. You may be surprised.
Where do you go to find peace and healing?