“There is no Wi-Fi in the forest, but we promise you will find a better connection.”
This quote by an unknown author reminds us that human beings are hard-wired for connection. From birth, we need connection to thrive emotionally, physically, spiritually, and intellectually.
Parks are an excellent place to connect with nature, others, and with ourselves. I would like to share my favourite park memories with you… My family travelled to Vancouver when I was thirteen years old. One morning, we visited Stanley Park and I was moved to tears as I looked at the sheer size of the fir trees and the lush greenery. I felt deeply connected to creation and to my creator. Later in life, as an adult and a parent, I spent time at parks as a favourite pasttime, whether walking the dog, sitting on a bench, or delighting in watching my daughters play at the playground.
Now, despite the 24-7 age we live in, we need time to nourish our spirits, and living and working in Crown Point enables me to visit many parks. Spending time at a park is a way to connect with nature. We are blessed (or not!) with four very distinct seasons in Canada. Most of our parks are accessible year-round, which means that we can enjoy all that the seasons offer. I invite you to try one of the following suggested spiritual practices at a park to cultivate a deeper and richer connection with the earth and to nurture your spirit.
- Find a spot in a park to sit or stand. Connect with this place one sense at a time—sight, sound, touch, and smell. Try to block out the other senses and focus on just one. You might say a mantra, or a few words of intention, such as, “I am open to this sight, this sound, this touch, this smell.” Remember to breathe deeply and be as present in the moment as you are able.
- Go to a park and find a spot that you name as your sacred place (or your happy/safe/quiet place). Go to this place once a week and just be in the space. Notice how the place changes with the seasons, with the time of day, or night. Perhaps say a few words of gratitude for this place.
- Parks are good for us, so take a walk in the park whenever you can. Connect with others at the park by enjoying an outdoor concert or an early morning yoga class. And when you are experiencing challenging times, or struggling with some issue, take a walk in the park knowing that you aren’t alone. We are connected to one another and to all creation.
Crown Point has many unique parks and green spaces. Let us renew our spirits and be mindful of all that our parks have to offer. May we continue to connect with one another and to be a vibrant and healthy neighbourhood.
Rev. Shelley Smith joined the Delta United Church (DUC) family in 2011 and became a regular columnist for The Point, the Crown Point community newspaper, in 2016. She has inspired DUC to initiate and/or participate in several community-strengthening activities, such as establishing Edith’s Pantry (on-site foodbank), hosting fundraising concerts, extending pastoral care outreach, Scouts Sunday, the World Day of Prayer, Thanksgiving Pot-Luck Supper, Taizé, Kids-Only Shopping Day, Blue Christmas Service, Christmas Craft Show, Easter Sunrise Service on the Beach, Wesley Case for Kids Campaign, and, in 2018, DUC began the process of becoming an Affirming Ministry.