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11/9 Devotion "Happy are Those"

“Happy are those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or take the path that sinners tread, or sit in the seat of scoffers; 2but their delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law they meditate day and night. 3They are like trees planted by streams of water, which yield their fruit in its season, and their leaves do not wither. In all that they do, they prosper.” Psalm 1: 1-3

Years ago, I assigned to the Confirmation Class to choose a Psalm they found meaningful to share with the next class. Every single one of them chose Psalm 1. I’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt but part of me believed they just opened the Bible and chose the first Psalm they found. The book of Psalms contains 150 writings from the depth of human experience and emotion. I may be skeptic of the Confirmands reading beyond the first Psalm in the book but to their credit they chose a good one.

The Psalm speaks of what nurtures happiness and fruitful living. Like trees much depends upon where we root ourselves and from what streams we draw refreshment. The Psalm brings about images of what brings me joy. I choose joy over happiness because happiness is more of a fleeting emotion. Joy is deep, enduring. We can have joy even in sorrow.

I experience much joy being in wooded places, with tree’s rooted deeply in their forest or by streams. Last Saturday I had a wonderful time running four miles in a local wooded park. I do not have to be trail running to find renewal from hiking. My joy comes from being outside and enjoying God’s creation.

Such is only part of the reason I find such places meaningful. Rooted in my history is memory of going on hikes in the woods early in my life with my family. Due to my Dad’s work schedule we rarely had opportunity for family outings. The rarity makes the memory more significant. My Dad took botany in college and could tell us the names of trees and other plants in the forest. By the time I was in my early teens long walks in the woods were no longer a possibility for my Dad. Yet, the memories continue to bring much joy and surface each time I’m surrounded by forest.

Recently, I learned of the Japanese practice of “forest bathing”. A form of spiritual practice or even therapy where we benefit from being in the forest. This is very different from running in the woods. Forest bathing is being calm and quiet among the trees as a way of de-stressing and connecting with trees, streams and the quietness of nature and therefore God. We are nurtured by the tree-filled forest in the same way trees draw nourishment from streams.

What brings you joy? Where do you need to plant yourself to reconnect with God and yourself? We all need to plug into those places where we do not wither and our souls can prosper. Maybe those Confirmands were onto something only reading the first Psalm.

Faithfully Yours,

Rev. Wendy

Image Credit (c) 2023 "Scheffley Gardens" by Wendy S-Chasney

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