Topics

Lisa Rumpel

It takes a forest to lift a spirit

Voices April 10, 2019

Just as in nature many trees create a “protected environment,” a community helps in coping with the never-ending roller coaster of a mood disorder, writes Lisa Rumpel. (PxHere)

Intertwining branches of tall mossy trees reach out. My heart feels free. I breathe in. The forest is nature’s cathedral. Oxygen rushes in refreshing my lungs and giving me a giddy feeling of lightness.

On a hike with a few friends, our pace is quick, strides matching as we climb around rocks and over roots. Moments of silence. Bird calls. Wind swishing evergreen branches. The clomp of hiking boots on packed earth. This is our music. A calm rushes over my body. Hiking grounds me and connects me to our Creator.

Respite and recovery liberate my mind and spirit. Walking through a canopy of trees was what I needed. Stopping for almond snacks, chocolate bark, and cool sips of water; I am energized to continue on. Almost at the falls. Our conversation and laughter fill the air around us.

“Careful!” my friend points to a poisonous plant at the path’s edge. I study its light green leaves and step away from it. Falling pine needles hit my hat. Mossy stones, old man’s beard, crackly bark.

In Peter Wohlleben’s book, The Hidden Life of Trees, he explains that a forest is a community. The trees “exchanges nutrients” to help “neighbours in times of need.”

And “a tree is not a forest. On its own, a tree cannot establish a consistent local climate. It is at the mercy of wind and weather.”

Many trees together create a “protected environment,” and “trees can live to be very old.”

Just as in nature I thrive in community. I can count on support and encouragement in the never-ending roller coaster of a mood disorder. Like the mother trees shading the young saplings to not grow too fast, my mother nurtured my growth as a child. And was there when I needed help the most. In a moment of despair when I had lost all hope, she intervened in my disturbed state. With her tireless care, I received the best aid. Medicine, therapy, prayer, and love. In times of recovery, walking in nature gives me the opportunity to wonder.

Fungi are dotting the ground. Fiddleheads on ferns. The sound of water rushing over rocks. We are close. Steep incline. Quick short breaths. Reaching for the last step to view Norvan Falls.

The two-hour hike was worth the view. Where would I be without the help of my family and friends? Isolated. Sad. Hopeless. More like a desert than a forest.

A deep breath in and I smile at my fellow hikers: friends, sisters. We made it. Time for lunch. No matter what, we all need someone to help us in difficult times. Everyone needs a team to encourage, motivate, and speak truth into our hearts.

Jesus, the good shepherd knows how much we need peace. “He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul.”

Hiking gives me the ability to rest in interior and exterior peace. To be open to growing in friendship and love. To find joy in being in another’s presence and to stay healthy physically and mentally.

Connecting to the Creator among the trees strengthens my drive for life. “Even though I walk through the valley of death, I fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”