Advent 2015

Tree Therapy

We are like climate change deniers: good at seeing the signs of the coming danger and explaining them away... I do see the signs in others and in me, and frankly it's scary. That's why I am so insistent about getting out of the valley and up into the hills and spending time with trees. I didn't know that the Japanese have a word for what I do. They call it shinrin yoku, or "forest bathing." Spending time with trees was first promoted by the Forest Agency of Japan in 1982 as a way to reduce chronic stress in the workplace. Mindfully walking in the forest has been shown to reduce the level of the stress hormone cortisol by 16% and to increase the activity level of cancer-fighting white blood cells by 40%. That's because trees emit chemicals called phytoncides, and regular exposure to them is very beneficial to our health. Think of it as Mother Nature's aromatherapy. So, we now know that trees have a positive impact on our physical health, but they do the same for our spiritual health, too. Trees make good doctors and good teachers, and many of their spiritual lessons can be found in our Bible.