Thought for the Day : Wednesday 12 May

Thought for the Day by Luke Verrall (Convenor of St Michael’s Green Group)

Readings: Deuteronomy 28:58-68 and 1 Peter 5

For today’s TFTD I chose to focus on the 1 Peter passage. It is a passage telling the elders to ‘give a shepherd’s care to the flock of God that is entrusted to you: watch over it, not simply as a duty but gladly, as God wants; not for sordid money, but because you are eager to do it.’ It also tells the younger people to ‘be subject to the elders. Humility towards one another must be the garment you all wear constantly,’. Whilst the meaning behind the text is really about people and being alert to the devil, for me I was thinking how the elders could be those with the knowledge to tend and care for the natural world, with the younger people learning from them to help preserve and protect creation.

This week is Mental Health Awareness Week, running 10th – 16th May and the theme this year is Nature. In over a year now, we have lived in very uncomfortable and uncertain times. We have all had negative things happen in our lives this year, some as a result of Covid, others that have been made even worse as an indirect effect of the pandemic. One element of life so overlooked, but being talked about now more than ever, is our mental health. It is something we can’t really see so is often forgotten, but it is equally as important to maintain a healthy mind as it is a healthy body.

The Mental Health Foundation have recognised how essential and important being in nature is for us on a daily basis. Research has shown that going for walks during the lockdown was one of our top coping strategies with 45% of people saying that being within green spaces has been vital for our mental health. Their website is full of ideas for how we can better connect with nature in a world where at times we seem so disconnected with it. If you can log on to their website (link above) there is an introductory video and a page giving 7 top tips on connecting with nature to improve your mental health, which includes;

  1. Find nature wherever you are
  2. Connect with nature using all of your senses
  3. Get out into nature
  4. Bring nature to you
  5. Exercise in nature
  6. Combine nature and creativity
  7. Protect nature

A couple of weeks ago we got up early on a Saturday(!) and ventured to RSPB St Aidan’s to immerse ourselves in nature. Whilst we absolutely love visiting this reserve, we were there for one particular delight, and we got it! We heard not one or two, but at least three if not four booming bitterns! An incredibly elusive and secretive heron, you rarely get a sighting, and we didn’t, but the main attraction is to hear the very deep and resounding ‘BOOM’ that the males make during the breeding season. Take a listen for yourself on the RSPB website. Now that was really achieving point 3 above!

If you are fortunate enough to have a garden, one way you could look to achieve item 7 and protect nature is to take part in the Plantlife ‘No Mow May’ campaign. It’s very easy, all you have to do is not mow the lawn for a month! This will allow the wildflowers to come through which are so vital to our pollinators. Take delight in the humble dandelion, daisy or cat’s-ear and watch your lawn come alive! Once the month is over, see if you could consider leaving a patch to stay wild, only cutting it twice per year to allow the seeds to drop. After a year or so your lawn will begin to resemble a meadow!

As adults we are duty bound to not only look after and protect our natural world, but we should be looking at every opportunity we can to improve and enhance it. Nature has done so much for us and our mental health during the pandemic, but it has come at a cost, with local nature areas and parks being visited so many times recently that paths have become eroded and litter rates appear to have increased. If we can find ways to give something back to nature as we emerge from lockdowns and restrictions, we will not only be helping our mental health but will also be helping our natural world to recover too.

TFTD now takes a break until 24th May

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