‘If we lose the forest, we lose our souls’.

This month Gilli and I are walking the North Downs Way, a ‘mere’(!) 153 miles long. We made this rash decision because last year we walked the Peak Pilgrimage; the fact that that was only 40 miles long and only took four days hasn’t been lost on either one of us!

Last year, as we walked there were moments when we were lost in awe and wonder at all that we saw and experienced along the road. To echo Psalm 19, we thought, we knew, we believed:

“The heavens declare the glory of God;

the skies proclaim the work of his hands.”

Recently I’ve been reading and thinking about the relationship of creation and our souls. I know I enjoy being outside taking in the sights and smells of creation; I know that sense of awe and wonder creation stirs within us but as I’ve read I’ve realised there is more to it than this.

To be truly human, to be those who are made in the image of God and who will one day be remade in the image of Christ, means we are to immerse ourselves utterly in and with creation. Instead of seeing creation only through the eyes of science, we are to see it through the eyes of faith too; in other words we are to re-enchant it. This means that creation isn’t only something God enjoys and calls good, it is more like a house God delights in calling home or a garden, or forest, in which he strolls.

To be truly Christian doesn’t mean we separate ourselves more from this world but that we fall ever deeper in love with God’s house, God’s garden, God’s forest in which he delights so much. When we do this, we not only engage deeper with the Jesus through whom this world was made, but our hearts beat more in time with him who will one day renew all of it.

‘If we lose the forest, we lose our souls’ pulses with the heartbeat of our God who invites us to walk alongside him in his garden that we may know him better; that we may love him deeper; that we may encounter him more in our lives day by day. Yet it also means we not only enjoy his creation but as good stewards we seek its wellbeing, its protection and its care on behalf of him who made it and who walks in it.

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