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Sacred Self Care: A Depressed Prophet and Forest Bathing | The Rev. Nicole Foster

Ya know what? Sometimes, you just need a nap. And some food…from angels.

The prophet Elijah definitely needed these things before he could continue on in the purposes of God. In 1 Kings 19, we find a very anxious, exhausted, and depressed prophet under a broom tree. He is running from the wrath of Jezebel for killing the prophets of Baal at the Wadi Kishon. He is a national fugitive.

1 Kings 19:3-6 reads,

Then he was afraid; he got up and fled for his life, and came to Beer-sheba, which belongs to Judah; he left his servant there. But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a solitary broom tree. He asked that he might die: “It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life, for I am no better than my ancestors.” Then he lay down under the broom tree and fell asleep. Suddenly an angel touched him and said to him, “Get up and eat.” He looked, and there at his head was a cake baked on hot stones, and a jar of water. He ate and drank, and lay down again.

While most of us have not committed mass murder against prophets of Baal and ran from our national leadership, it’s safe to say that all of us have…well…just lived life. Living life can be gut-wrenching, heart breaking, frustrating, and exhausting. This will cause many of us to cry out to the Lord, the very words Elijah did: “It is enough now, Lord…”Nevertheless the Lord has more for us to do.

Personally, when I get like this, I forest-bathe. What’s forest bathing? While I like to hike, trail-run, and camp, forest-bathing is a bit different.

Forest bathing, or shinrin-yoku, is simply spending time outdoors under the canopy of trees. In Japanese, “shinrin” means forest and “yoku” means bath, or immersing oneself in the forest and soaking in the atmosphere through the senses, according to Dr. Qing Li, who is the president of the Japanese Society of Forest Medicine and one of Japan’s leading forest bathing researchers. 

According to research on the subject, forest bathing their are benefits to the human immune system from phytoncides—essential wood oils or the “aromas of the forest”. A 2009 study published in the International Journal of Immunopathology, revealed the effects of phytoncides. Phytoncides were proven to decrease anxiety, depression, anger and fatigue.

Thank you, Gracious Lord for phytoncides!🌲

So whatever it is that brings you vitality, life, sustainability- be it yoga, running, sun-lounging; do it. Because God’s got things for you to do.

Peace and Love,

The Rev. Nicole Foster

The Rev. Dr. Nicole Foster the T.V. Host and founding minister of The Hippie Theologian. She holds a Doctor of Ministry from Trinity Episcopal School for Ministry, a Master of Divinity from Redeemer Theological Seminary and a B.A. in History from Southern Methodist University. She’s an ordained Anglican minister and teaches Old Testament for various organizations. She loves to hike, camp, make organic soap, and be a beach bum as often as possible.

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