In a memorable line from The Chronicles of Narnia, Mr. Tumnus laments, “It is winter in Narnia and has been for ever so long . . . always winter, but never Christmas.”
This year of 2020, the entire thing, has felt like the winter Mr. Tumnus describes.
The civil distress, the pandemic and sickness, the struggles with mental health and emotional well-being, the state of our economy—they have left so many feeling helpless and longing for a metaphorical saving grace—a Christmas.
Or perhaps, a Savior.
In the middle of our suffering, our Savior equips us with sources of his amazing grace. For example, he provides us with light.
The Bible tells us: “For at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light” (Ephesians 5:8). The entirety of (well, everything) began with Genesis 1, “And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light” (v. 3).
Time and time again, Scripture uses light and the sun to illustrate radiance and holiness (Matthew 13:43; Proverbs 4:18; Psalm 84:11, Matthew 17:2).
In Ecclesiastes 11:7, we are told: “Light is sweet, and it is pleasant for the eyes to see the sun.”
Have you been “forest bathing”?
While many of these Scriptural references to light are symbolic, there is value to be found in literal application. There are benefits to be reaped by engaging with nature.
Have you ever stepped outside and felt your pulse slow?
Have you been calmed by deep breaths of fresh air and the songs of a nearby bird?
In “How the simple act of nature helps you de-stress,” Christina Heiser speaks to the healing effects of “forest bathing,” which she defines as “the practice of spending time in a forested area in an effort to reap wellness rewards.”
And science supports these effects. Irina Wen, Ph.D., explains: “Nature can be beneficial for mental health . . . . It reduces cognitive fatigue and stress and can be helpful with depression and anxiety.”
“Foster a sunny disposition”
The benefits of outdoor exposure do not end with mental well-being. Julie Singh lists thirteen advantages of getting outside, all with referenced scientific support. Here are a few from her list:
- Reduced inflammation
- Improved sleep
- Increased caloric expenditure
- Natural pain relief
- Boosted immune function
- Increased social interaction (especially in a COVID-19 reality)
- Enhanced creativity
Medical doctor Whitney Christian encourages everyone to take mental breaks throughout the day. She cites enhanced mental well-being and increased levels of vitamin D as benefits received via direct sunlight exposure. And what’s more, Christian explains, “We have a natural connection to living things. When we’re out in nature, it’s easy to feel like we belong in our environment and foster a sunny disposition.”
The psalmist tells us: “So that those who dwell at the end of the earth are in awe at your signs. You make the going out of the morning and the evening to shout for joy” (Psalm 65:8). Scripture points to the reflection of God’s glory in the beauty of nature. It reveals to us the generosity and love of our Father. It is a place in which we, his creation, belong.
We see his power in the thunderous claps of a summer storm. We see his gentleness in the slow trickle of a mountain stream. We see his radiance in a sunset that paints the sky in brilliant watercolors. And we see his creativity in the whimsical vegetation of a tropical rainforest.
See that you are loved
Have the events of this year worn you down? Are you weary?
I encourage you to step outside your front door.
Take a walk down your street.
Gaze into the majesty of nature.
Notice the birds in the sky. They soar with reckless abandon, swooping up and down. The squirrels, they run freely from one tree to the next, often playfully chasing one another. The honeybees buzz and wiggle, communicating to their hive where the sweetest nectar can be found.
These animals do not fret over provision. God simply provides because he is a generous, loving Creator.
And, friend, how much more valuable are you than the birds, the squirrels, and the honeybees? Remember: “Look at the birds of the air: they neither reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?” (Matthew 6:26–27).
Add an hour? No, it cannot be so. Lose an hour? I certainly have.
Allow God to metaphorically and literally light your path today. Let his Word lead your heart, mind, and soul. Let his sun warm your skin and guide your steps (Psalm 119:105).
It might be winter in Narnia, but find hope in that you are a child of the King.
God is more than enough to turn our pages and change our narrative. He is our Christmas.
When life feels too hard to push forward, take a walk.
In his book Dad Tired and Loving It, Jerrad Lopes asks, “Do you know what God is doing on arguably the worst day in human history?”
“He’s taking a walk.”