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Soothing Our Souls 


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Photography - Anthem in Art
HMUA - Anthem in Art
Model - Janie Stewart

“Nature itself is the best physician.”– Hippocrates

The natural world surrounds us no matter where we live.

Even in big cities filled with cement and skyscrapers, nature exists: in exotic plants dotting a rooftop patio; in vegetables and flowers bursting from a balcony garden; in blooms and herbs wandering over a windowsill; and in lush grass, leafy shrubs and trees, and lacy flowerbeds decorating spacious parks. No matter where we are, we find a way to bring nature into our lives.

Why is that, I ask myself? I think back to when I was a child when some hurt or loss wounded me and I would feel deeply the sorrow only children can feel. Closing my eyes, I can picture how my young self dealt with it. The salve I turned to more often than not was to journey no farther than my sprawling backyard. I was fortunate to have a large one filled with trees and nooks and crannies to get lost in. My favorite spot was within the confines of our cascading weeping willow whose lithe limbs enveloped me, opening as I pushed through them, and closing as I rested my back against the sturdy reassuring trunk, enveloping me in sunshine and shade all at the same time.

While taking solace there, nursing my wounds, I kept my eyes wide open. The underside of the delicate thin leaves shone golden in the sun, and the grass, shaded by the mass of branches, darkened. Different upsets took different amounts of time to heal. But heal, they did. Gradually, the ache would subside and the tears would dry. It was the closest thing to real magic existing in the world that I knew. Today, I still feel the comfort nature’s touch and images brought me then, and I still believe nature’s ability to soothe my soul is the closest I will come to experiencing real magic.

Now, the injuries to our adult souls come from a variety of sources: job and family concerns, the loss of loved ones, pressure from responsibilities, and a seemingly endless myriad of other perpetrators. None of us, no matter what our circumstances, are immune. Just as nature healed us when we were young, whether it was finding perfect peace within the extended arms of a willow tree, or something else, it can work its magic on us now. That is why, I realize, we bring nature into our lives.

Walking in a  city park, having lunch on a sunny roof among potted plants, breathing in the perfume from a small-space garden, hiking along a forest path, riding a bike beside a meandering river, skipping rocks on a glassy lake, digging in the dirt and planting seeds, watching gaily colored feathers shimmer in the sun at a crowded bird feeder, listening to the call and response of frogs at night, gazing at the sunset, marveling at the sunrise . . . Nature’s poultices are many.

We are living in a time when spending our leisure time inside shopping, visiting museums, and working out at the gym hasn’t been practical. For that reason, we look to the outdoors for our entertainment and exercise. In so doing, something more significant has happened. We have begun mending our broken hearts from the passing of so many with nature’s restorative powers. When it has all become too much, we have been able to open the door, walk outside, and allow ourselves to be soothed by nature’s unconditional love.

When we give ourselves over to nature, we feel the sorrow, tension, and stress fall away. Not only does nature relieve us of these burdens, it replaces them with the gifts of strength and hope: strength to continue on and hope for a better tomorrow.

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Photography - Anthem in Art
HMUA - Anthem in Art
Model - Janie Stewart

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