We are suffering from the ‘rushing syndrome’ as a society. We rush from dawn to dusk to conquer tasks and tick off to-do lists. Life throws us many balls, some of them unexpected that we need to juggle at a moment’s notice. Our bodies are constantly in fight-or-flight mode which contributes to stress and adrenal fatigue. We have become overachievers who have lost the ability to slow down or stop to rest. Rest, unfortunately, is mistaken for laziness. We battle within ourselves for permission to take a break.
We ignore the signs flagging stress and live with insomnia, we brush aside the struggle for mental clarity believing it’s baby brain or brain fog. We wonder why the simplest things overwhelm us, and why being irritable is the new norm. Is it any wonder mental health is declining, and depression is on the rise? We are surviving not thriving.
If this isn’t enough, we add the world’s problems on our shoulders. The world’s issues are now at our fingertips through our screens and social media platforms. We worry about inflation, world wars, and rumours of wars. A dread lingers in the back of our minds as we wait for the next virus to mutate, and we’re trying to navigate culture wars. Were we created to carry all the world’s troubles on our shoulders?
We need a simpler life to thrive. We have lost sight of the ancient pathways.
Thus says the LORD, “Stand by the roads and look; ask for the ancient paths, Where the good way is; then walk in it, And you will find rest for your souls.Jeremiah 6:16
As we reach the year’s end, I challenge you to purposefully decelerate, and place the screens aside to initiate calm, peace, joy, and gratitude. PAUSE! We’re constantly pouring ourselves out like liquid. It’s okay to say no or stop an activity for a season to create time to step aside and fill our cups. Let’s disconnect and return to the gardens, mountains, and oceans God created to PAUSE and worship Him in that sacred place. Worship outdoors nurtures a profound sense of awe, wonder, and gratitude.
Where we worship can have a profound impact on the quality of our worship. The naturalist seeks to leave the formal architecture and the padded pews to enter an entirely new ‘cathedral’, a place that God himself has built: the out of doors… Naturalists have found that getting outside can literally flood parched hearts and soften the hardest soul.Sacred Pathways: Discover Your Soul’s Path to God by Gary Thomas.
Although binging movies, sipping coffee, and delighting in chocolate are entertaining ideas to escape our stress-filled lives, we need to reconnect with nature. Man and woman were created from dirt. Adam and Eve were placed in a garden with amazing creatures great and small. Their purpose was to tend to the garden and take joy in it. To glorify God for His amazing works and take pleasure in them.
Sooner or later, every person feels this desire to plant something. It is the return to Eden, the return to ourselves after the long estrangement of our artificial lives.Liberty Hyde Bailey.
Is this why we love to immerse our hands in the soil and take deep breaths as the scent of humus fills our olfactory sensory neurons? We take joy when planting a seed, watching it grow, then flowering and fruiting. We savour sweet, dripping juices from ruby-red cherries. Planting a tree revives excitement laid dormant. Roaring oceans, rippling rivers, and cascading waterfalls wash us with peace and calm. God’s classroom is where we’ll find rest for our minds as our thoughts ponder His attributes made clear through His creation.
We know God by two means: First, by the creation, preservation and government of the universe, since that universe is before our eyes like a beautiful book in which all creatures, great and small, are as letters to make us ponder the invisible things of God: God’s eternal power and divinity, as the apostle Paul says in Roms 1:20. All these things are enough to convict humans and to leave them without excuse.Article 2 of the Belgic Confession (1561).
As we step into God’s out-of-doors, let’s be intentional and purposeful about how we PAUSE. Be all present and mindful of the moment in the place. Engage the five senses. Breathe deep, and exhale slowly. Let’s wash away cortisol and engage oxytocin.
- Feel the sun brush your face.
- Feel the breeze kiss your cheek.
- Walk barefoot being mindful of the textures beneath your feet. Dig your toes into the sand.
- Dangle feet in water, or run water over wrists.
- Notice colour, as if seeing it for the first time. How many colours do you see?
- Breathe deep. Listen to your heartbeat. What can you hear?
- What senses tickle your nose? Smell conifer trees.
- Climb a tree. Feel the bark textures with your hands and feet.
- Fiddle with pinecones and gum nuts.
- Watch leaves dance in the breeze.
- Pick summer berries.
- Lie on your back and watch the clouds flow by. What images can you see in them?
- Lie down and watch the stars twinkle. Connect the stars.
- Scribble or design a pattern in the sand.
- Soak up sunrise light with coffee in hand.
- Take a picnic to a favourite spot, and connect with a friend.
- Balance rocks or stones upon each other.
- Skip stones across the water.
- Listen to rolling waves or lapping water.
- Follow a butterfly.
- Dance in the rain.
- Catch raindrops with your tongue.
- Jump in puddles.
- Savour the hugs children so freely give.
- Cuddle a pet.
It’s the simpler things in life that bring us joy, make us feel alive, and fill our hearts with gratitude. Make a conscious effort to PAUSE and be aware of awe and beauty. Become mindful of pausing moments and be grounded in reality.