Finding Rest For The Busy Mind
As our long hot summer turns into to a golden and blustery autumn, the harvest abounds all around us; ripe fruit and oddly shaped vegetables, glorious seed heads and nut trees galore. A reminder of God’s lavish provision for our nourishment and wellbeing.
But God’s abundance in the harvest in this season is not for our bodies alone.
For the past year or so I’ve had ME/CFS. I live with a malfunctioning nervous system. Stress of any kind severely depletes my energy levels and causes me to be unwell, and so in my recovery I’ve been super focussed on how to limit stress and how to recover from it when it happens.
As you can imagine, I’ve tried a lot of things along the way; prayer (obviously), scrabble, meditation, relaxation exercises, reading, drinking wine, not drinking wine, movies, massage, having fun, limiting fun, counselling, a technology boycott, listening to ocean sounds, doing puzzles, and the list goes on!
All of these have been good in some measure, but I’ve found that nothing quite stops the whirring of the mind like getting out and into nature, whatever the time of year.
As I’m connected with God’s glorious creation; (this week) kicking leaves, searching for seeds, and just marvelling at the colours and the changes around me, I can’t help but be struck with both awe and wonder. And it’s in that moment of awe and wonder that my mind is given a reprieve, a moment’s rest from my thoughts, and a chance to ‘reboot’. When my mind is absorbed with God’s goodness, there’s no room for stress and so I’m momentarily restored to peacefulness and calm.
And when it dawns on me that God laid all of nature out for us; not just to feed our bodies, but to soothe our minds in this way, I’m struck all over again. In this modern world when more is more and having an overflowing calendar has somehow become fashionable, God has given us a way to rest our minds. It was there all along!
The West of England is superabundant in opportunities to explore God’s creation all year round; the beautiful Cotswold countryside, ancient woodlands in the Forest of Dean, Britain’s ‘second greatest natural wonder’ – Cheddar Gorge, the vibrant Somerset Coast, the River Avon, not to mention lakes, parks, hills (like Crook Peak), and of course our very own gardens.
For many of us the season ahead will be our busiest of the year, and rightly so; the missional opportunities at Christmas are vast and none of us want to miss a single one. But as well as prayerful planning and creativity, the season will require stamina – people in good physical, emotional and spiritual health.
So as the season advances, and the leaves continue to be shaken from the trees, don’t forget to make some time for you. Pull on your boots and coat, dig out that flask, get out there, look around you, stop and look even closer, and allow God’s provision in nature to minister to you.