What Nourishes Your Soul?
I just returned from spending ten days experiencing the rugged beauty of Northern California. After four days of leading a training retreat at the Bishop's Ranch Retreat and Conference Center, in Healdsburg (80 miles north of San Francisco), my wife and I took some vacation time to venture a few hundred miles further north to explore on foot the remote coastline at Shelter Cover and the giant redwood forests in both Jedidiah State Park and Prairie Creek State Park.
Hiking is, of course, good for the body, but in my experience, it is even better for the soul. It is the perfect metaphor for the journey of life itself. All that is required is to simply keep putting one foot in front of the other, over and over again. The key in both hiking and life is to take time to stop and become fully present to the beauty that is around you, to feel the breeze, to smell the air, and to listen to the quiet sounds that you might otherwise miss. The journey itself, not the destination, is the most precious part of the experience.
Our journeys are always enriched when we are privileged to walk amongst elders. For me this week, this included redwood trees that were between five and seven hundred years old. To be in their presence and wonder about all that they have witnessed, all that they have endured, was a balm for my soul. Silence was the only response to the humility I felt standing before their almost incomprehensible height and breadth.
Is it any wonder that so many spiritual traditions contain stories of experiencing God in the wilderness? Whether on a mountaintop, in the desert, by a river or sea, or in the presence of a burning bush, the Sacred has always been experienced in and through nature. Experiencing creation has a way of connecting us with the Creator.
I am pretty good about remembering to nourish my body with proper food and rest. I, however, sometimes forget about the importance of nourishing my soul, and so this past week was an important reminder of both what feeds my soul and the importance of doing so.
What nourishes your soul and how might you make time for that?
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