I learned about the chaffinch from my friend Dave Stum. He said the chaffinch is a type of finch found in Europe, about the size and color of a robin. It sings a beautiful song and people often keep them in their homes just to hear them sing. But the chaffinch has another unique characteristic—it can forget how to sing. The bird has to be taken back into the woods—where the wild birds are—to relearn the songs. If it does not learn how to sing again, it can become depressed and die. Sometimes it feels like we’ve been caged.
Some of you say, “The cage hasn’t been so bad. We’ve rediscovered each other. We’ve resurrected old hobbies or happened upon new ones. Who knew that a 5000-piece jigsaw puzzle was so exhilarating?” John Mayer wrote “The Great Indoors” twenty years ago as if he knew that 2020 would need an anthem.
Check your pulse; It's proof that you're not listening to
The call your life's been issuing you; The rhythm of a line of idle days
Scared of the world outside; You should go explore
Pull all the shades and wander the great indoors; The great indoors
But for many others, the impact of confinement and loss has been devastating. It’s almost like we’ve forgotten who we are—we’ve forgotten the song. Although John Mayer brings memories of the warm fuzzy, pajama snow day, joy of life inside with cards and cartoons and castles made from blankets draped over the living room furniture, he also reminds us that we can’t stay there.
So go unlock the door; And find what you are here for
Leave the great indoors
Please leave the great indoors
Earth Day is here. Perfect timing.
In the 1980’s, the Japanese established a practice called Shinrin Yoku—Forest Bathing. Sounds exciting doesn’t it? I’m sure for some this triggers memories of washing off Wilderness Trail stink in a mountain stream or underneath a cascading waterfall—but it’s not that. It does not require a bare-footed plunge into insanely cold water. But it is does require immersing yourself in a wild space—where the wild things are. Forest bathing is not complicated. It’s not a commitment to exercise with a trail run or a long hike. It’s simply ‘bathing’ in the forest atmosphere with all five of your senses. Scientific studies have proven that two hours in the forest is both therapeutic and restorative. Forest bathing reduces inflammation, depression, and anger. It enhances creativity, cardiovascular health, and lowers blood pressure. Scientists say that when we breathe in the natural chemicals released by plants, our immune system is almost immediately increased, and we breathe in cancer-fighting proteins.
The positive impact on our health isn’t just physical and mental. A slow, aimless walk in the forest awakens the soul. Follow your nose, and your eyes, and your ears. It’s a practice of mindfulness—becoming fully awake and fully present to the moment. With child-like wonder, watch the salamander, listen to the woodpecker, feel the tree bark, smell the rain. God, who created wild places and wild things, is close. So I hope you unlock your door. I can’t wait to hear you sing.