Forest Bathing and Sermon Writing

Last Saturday, Robert and I headed out to Riverbend Park – he to break in his new kayak, and me to check out the bluebells and other assorted wildflowers. While there are a number of aspects to the festival – musicians, food trucks, puppet shows (puppet shows!), and talks on animals, plants, and “Terrific Turtles,” I spent all my time on a self-guided walk along the riverside trail, admiring the many wildflowers in terrific bloom.

[I was, I should note, avoiding working on my sermon for Easter morning. To be fair to myself, though, I had been trying to write the damn thing for a month and a half, so I thought a break was well deserved, and might even be helpful.]

Robert lent me his macro lens for the visit…which I didn’t really know how to use until we had a brief tutorial later that afternoon. I took a few pictures with the new lens, but mostly stayed with the other “zoom” lens Robert has let me borrow. [I’m not a knowledgeable photographer, just someone who fumbles about with her camera, so I can’t give you the same details about camera lenses and focal lengths, etc.]

These shots can not possibly convey how beautiful the flowers were along the trail. It was pretty amazing.

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While I hiked, I mentally drafted a small part of my Easter morning sermon. I won’t bore you with the whole thing, but I will let you know it was about grief:

We grew up with our father taking us to the “out of doors,” as he called it. Pointing out the different kinds of trees, identifying birds, teaching us which plants were safe to eat, which ones were often used for medicine, and which ones would give us rashes or could kill us if eaten. Every time I step foot in the woods, I think of my father. Which makes the woods a very difficult place to be. Because every rock, and flower, and tree and bird reminds me of him. It is harder to be there than anywhere else. And yet, at the same time, it is easier to be there than anywhere else.

[…] I don’t imagine Mary’s grief ever truly went away, despite having seen the risen Christ. I imagine she felt a part of it her whole life. Maybe it wasn’t ever as immediate as that morning, as she walked to the tomb, but it would still be there. Believing that someone is out of pain and “still around,” albeit not physically, doesn’t make their absence any easier, does it? There are still those moments when you stand in a field of bluebells, feeling their presence all around you, even as you are devastated that they aren’t there. The trick of it is, as Mary no doubt learned, to not let your desire to hold on to those people hold you back from the things you are called to do.”

There’s more, obviously. And it ended up being a lot happier and funnier than I originally worried [Seriously, I read it over again early Easter morning – when I still didn’t have an ending for it – and thought “folks are going to think this is a complete buzzkill for Easter morning”]. But that is what I wrote in the woods, and it helped just admitting how hard it is to go to the woods, and yet how much it is needed.


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