The Leaves of the Trees

The case for re-connecting with nature seems to never stop mounting.

Whether it’s advocates of forest school, to promote the healthy emotional and social development of children.

Or charities organising outdoor activities and mindfulness walks, for the mental health and wellbeing of adults.

These things need to be said and done, as ‘civilised’ society, without active efforts to stop itself, tends to slip further and further away from nature, to its own detriment and self-destruction.

“At times I feel as if I am spread out over the landscape and inside things, and am myself living in every tree, in the splashing of the waves, in the clouds and the animals that come and go, in the procession of the seasons.” Carl Jung

It’s good to be reminded that humankind and nature are not two distinct things, but that humankind is part of nature. And that any mending of that artificial fracture brings us back to who we are. Back to the Source of our being.

A walk in the woods, as we know, is of utmost therapeutic benefit.

Interesting, then, that the last chapter of the Bible, looking forward to the renewed earth of a future age, describes a “tree of life” whose “leaves are for the healing of the nations”. In fact, the Greek word translated “healing” in this verse is therapeia, from which we have the English word therapy.

Trees and their leaves are indeed therapeutic.

I cannot say exactly how nature exerts its calming and organizing effects on our brains, but I have seen in my patients the restorative and healing powers of nature and gardens, even for those who are deeply disabled neurologically. In many cases, gardens and nature are more powerful than any medication.” Oliver Sacks (neurologist and author).

There’s a silver stream of wisdom running through the ages, from ancient prophets to the climate activists, tree-huggers, nature conservationists, doctors and ordinary people of today, enticing communities back to our roots (pardon the pun) for individual and collective health and wholeness.

Simon & Garfunkel, mourning the unstoppable progress of change, sang that “the leaves that are green turn to brown.” But they often turn to red, yellow and gold, too.

This autumn, I hope that you, like me, will enjoy watching the leaves change and find breaths of new life as we walk among them.

And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.” Revelation 21:2

(all photos taken by me in Newgate Woods, Hastings)

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