The rest of the world calls it “the beautiful game,” and for a month of World Cup soccer competition Americans get to see it on TV—the moments of explosive action and the constant flow of movement from one end of the field to the other, with hardly any commercial interruptions. More Americans (19.4 million) recently watched Ghana eliminate the U.S.
It’s Thursday morning, November 9, 2006. It’s ten after nine. I’m at my desk, working through Ecclesiastes for a book I am to write. The verse I’m working on goes like this: “Better a handful with quietness than two fistfuls with toil and a chasing after wind.”
Scholars say the title "To the Hebrews" is not a part of the original
manuscript: the author of this early Christian letter—a written sermon,
really—doesn’t waste time on salutations. He gets right to it, straight
to the point.
Martha Tidwell sat before me wearing a blue pants suit and a weary face. Four years ago she left her high-paying job as an accountant after having discerned, with her church’s help, that she was called by God to begin the process of becoming a pastor. Her husband, Ted, was supportive and quit his job as well so that they could come to Pittsburgh to begin her studies.
During the day, her mother’s confusion was manageable, more or less.
They would wake up, have their tea and toast and walk around the house,
noticing which flowers were waxing and which were waning. After their
mid-morning nap, they would have lunch and then settle into a long game
of cards or—her mother’s favorite—dominoes.
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).