Have you heard about Shinrin – the Japanese practice of forest bathing? I have always known that Japanese people like to saunter under cherry blossoms in the spring; what I didn’t know was that this is their year-round practice of both psychological and physiological healing.
The Prairie Fellowship, a beloved Unitarian community that provided me in anchor in my peripatetic years, used to spend a weekend every October in the Wisconsin Dells. One year I was asked to read autumn poems out of doors and so, on a warm-enough sunny morning, I sat under the forest canopy all ablaze in gold and crimson to await any participants who might come.
This is a painting by British artist Angela Harding (www.angelaharding.co.uk) titled “Shooting Stars.” Notice the moon, and that the Hare is leaping.
When we think of nature as paradise, we envision our ideal first home, the Garden of Eden, in all of its natural loveliness. For many people, this world is lost to earth and only to be found “up there,” in heaven. To such believers, the idea that earth itself is chock full of divinity constitutes heresy.