Faith comes in many forms: a faithful friend, faith in expert advice, and faith in a higher power. When it comes to living with chronic conditions, faith can heal in many ways. Some draw on faith for strength and comfort. Some use faith to distract from the suffering. Others use faith to find hope and solstice. How do you use faith for healing?
That question was posed recently by The Washington Post. I see faith used in many ways by my patients. By far, the most common form of faith is found in the act of communing. Communing is a type of interaction and communication. Whether one communes with a friend or with a higher power, both ways provide support in times of need. I invite you to read further about Communing and Healing.
When I need a restorative force in my life, I turn to the natural world. Upon looking at a beautiful vista, Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “Now let me die, for I am happy”. I have certainly felt that way when witnessing something divinely beautiful, like the time when I watched the sunrise over the Grand Canyon (see picture) or the time when I skied through a quiet stretch of forest after a fresh snowfall. Yes, God has revealed himself to me through nature.
I also remember my darkest day when the will to live was kicked out of me. On that day, I took a walk and let the healing powers of the wilderness wash over me. At that moment of seemingly endless suffering, I worshiped God’s creation in God’s cathedral—the wilderness. Somehow, the connection with the trees, the water, the wind, and those that live in the woods reminds me that my problems are small and surmountable.
Recently, a special series about the National Parks by Ken Burns aired on public television. The first episode was fittingly called “The Scriptures of Nature”. John Muir, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Teddy Roosevelt all felt compelled to preserve the holiest of lands for future generations to have some way to feel grounded. We all need to feel grounded in times of distress and suffering. The natural world has inspired many cultures across the history of time. Such inspiration can only be called one thing—the Gospel of Nature. This gospel says that a spiritual communion awaits you in God’s cathedral. Thus ends the lesson, Amen.