This month I’m participating in a Gratitude Challenge.

My backyard during sunrise.

Just being in nature and looking at nature – living things that are green and orange and yellow and pink and swaying in the breeze – fills me up with a sort of power. The past couple of years I have been more aware than ever of my different energies. I have physical energy, mental energy, creative energy, emotional energy… being in nature replenishes all of my energies. Standing still, feeling the breeze, breathing in deep… it’s the most restorative type of prayer and gratitude and rest I’ve ever experienced.

Sometimes I go to my friend Melody’s house and we sit on her back balcony and look at the river and watch the birds fly by. There are these gorgeous white birds that fly in front of the mountainous backdrop and it’s just gorgeous.

Traveling has gotten less taxing the more I’ve done it, but traveling internationally can still be emotionally and mentally draining. A little over a year ago I was visiting family in the States. We got to the restaurant early. I spotted a little patch of forest and told my family, “I’m going to go for a little walk.” That patch of forest between the restaurant parking lot and adjacent hotel parking lot was a breath of literal fresh air and a breath of emotional fresh air. It restored me and readied me.

Being alone in nature isn’t really being alone at all. There is so much life in a forest, in trees and plants, underfoot and overhead, all around and inside.

This summer one of my staff decided to leave her position at YouthWorks. I got to jump in and take over for a role I had never done before. We received backup, but unfortunately the backup was a nondriver. So we drove around together figuring out this role neither of us had done while I fought a pretty intense head cold. We pulled up to a church to deliver supplies to a work crew and make sure they were getting started. While the other staff member chatted with the pastor, I wandered behind the church, pulled by the distant and faint sound of rushing water.

Behind the church I could stand and see nothing but green all around. The road noise died away. I couldn’t hear the chatter of eager workers. Just the rushing water. The birds in the trees. The breeze in the leaves. I stood there, alone but not alone, and was restored.


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