On a journey through North America, my wife and I
attended many churches. At one the pastor insisted repeatedly that "the meaning and purpose of life is to have a
personal relationship with Jesus." The claim irked me.
The opportunity arose for our church to host a group of homeless people. We anticipated that people might threaten to leave if we went through with it. We weren't prepared, however, for the newly baptized Kathryn.
Much of the snickering about boring sermons comes not
because we expect so little but because we have hoped for so much. A hunger persists for a word from the
Lord—without which we are left to our boring selves.
Plant a garden. Listen to birdsong. Sit quietly in a park without checking your phone. These activities are examples of ecotherapy, a form of mental health treatment based on the idea that nature has healing powers. “If you hold moist soil for 20 minutes, the soil bacteria begin elevating your mood,” says Craig Chalquist, an innovator in this new field. “You have all the antidepressant you need in the ground.” Chalquist maintains that it helps even more to give something back to nature—not just looking at trees, but caring for them (Atlantic, October).