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Editor's Note: We are a non-religious magazine. However, we acknowledge that spirituality is an important part for some. Our Faith column is a place for anyone to discuss how faith positively affects their mental health and how to improve the conversation around mental health within faith communities.
Robins and bluebirds filled my ears with melodies complimented by the faint rustle of the wind through the trees, the gurgle of a nearby stream, and the gentle, rhythmic crunch of leaves beneath my feet. The soft sunlight peeked through the trees, creating an intricate tracery on the forest trail and wrapping me in a warm, peaceful hug.
The smell of pine, earthy soil and fresh spring growth wafted into my lungs with each breath of pure, crisp air.
Creation was a lullaby to my anxious mind, coaxing me to surrender my thoughts to the beauty of movement.
It offered me the opportunity to be in silent communion with the Holy Spirit.
I was struggling with depression, which left my soul feeling raw, empty, and weary. Reveling in the beauty of God’s creation soothed my soul, like cool Aloe Vera, soothes a raw sunburn. The beauty of creation did not heal my depression and anxiety, but it did play a significant role, alongside medication and professional therapy.
Experiences of beauty reminded me God’s love and presence were still in and around me, even on the darkest days. They provided hope for me to keep on fighting when the world seemed overwhelmingly broken and merciless. They took the edge off of the pain and emptiness I felt. The beauty of creation became like chicken soup for a sick soul, nourishing and soothing me gently when I could not keep down more sophisticated forms of hope.
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I did not find my nourishment solely in the beauty of running through beautiful nature paths. I found nourishment in the beauty of poetry, with words I would turn around on my tongue, allowing their beautiful forms to seep into my hurting soul.
I found nourishment in beautiful works of art; in photographs, paintings, pottery, gardens, and sculpture.
I found nourishment in music, letting my pain fade slightly as I got lost in the rises and falls of the notes of a symphony, or in the simple messages of hope in beautiful hymns.
Depression blunted my pleasure and made it harder to see the beauty in nature. It was made harder, but not impossible. As antidepressants and therapy began to heal me biochemically, forcing myself to keep seeking beauty until I found it began to heal me spiritually.
For many months at the beginning of my recovery, I was still too ill to fully experience rich, emotional worship sessions or extravagant devotional times. When I sought beauty in God’s creation, however, God gently touched my heart and soul, and the depths of my soul responded in quiet and often wordless prayers.
I encourage you to seek beauty in God’s creation today.
Do not worry if you do not have a revelatory experience or feel the palpable presence of God. Do not worry if beauty doesn’t fill you with as much pleasure or awe as it once did. Experiment with different forms of beauty and explore types of beauty you may have overlooked in the past.
Does movement refresh you? Does art or music inspire you? Does poetry or literature enrich your soul? Does creation bring you hope?
Simply allow yourself to rest in the beauty. Fight to find beauty, and fight to find the hope it brings.
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