Greetings from Elizabeth Baker writing to you from East Texas where we’re enjoying a lovely day of Indian summer. The door is open letting in crisp fall air. Just beyond the front porch birds sing in the old oak. Any writer could to be encouraged by a day like this. Or—as the locals say—“If that don’t stoke yer fire, yer wood’s wet.”
I wish days like this would hang around, but I know they won’t. We just sweated through the dog days of summer and winter ice is just around the corner. This creates a problem for writers with my bent because the beauty of nature and being outdoors are not optional pastimes. I NEED green to function.
I’m not a hiker or sports enthusiast. I don’t jog. I can’t grow flowers outside and I’ll manage to kill anything I bring inside—if the cat doesn’t eat it first. Yet, without regular opportunities to breathe in God’s creation, I shrivel and creative instinct is quickly replaced by brooding and video games. Balancing my need of nature with family obligation and being chained to a desk most of the day hasn’t been easy but I’ve learned a few tips through the years and perhaps they will help you, too.
Most important, I’ve found it doesn’t take much green or much time to provide a sense of renewal and refreshment. A few blossoms purchased at the grocery store or a fifteen minute walk in the yard can be beneficial if I completely lay aside every knotty sentence and stubborn plot niggling at my brain, breathe deeply, and take a moment to be with the Lord. Yet, this simple practice may take effort to learn. The mind often doesn’t want to let go and tenaciously butts in while the body is trying to relax but it takes practice to leave problems back at the keyboard while the spirit soaks in a tiny bit of nature.
Also, for many years I was on staff with a large church where all of us who ministered to others were encouraged to take one day each month, find a place of solitude and commune with God. For me, that translated into getting away from walls and finding something green. I’m no longer on staff, but I still select a day well in advance, place a large X on the wall calendar and do my best to string together several hours alone with green and God.
Of course, ideal situations seldom exist. Storms or health concerns may make it impossible to get out. Young children make a whole day alone impractical. Yet, whenever possible, getting with the green has been a discipline well worth cultivating. Even if I have to stand in the cold with my hands wrapped around a mug of hot coco while I marvel at the intricate pattern of bare branches against a grey winter sky, the day is still "lovely” and my soul refreshed by a dose of “green” encouragement.