Saturday, July 14, 2007

a breath of fresh air

The other night while I was walking home at the end of a long, hot day I found some surprising refreshment. I noticed that as I walked along the street, the temperature and taste of the air changed dramatically when I stepped beyond the first bank of concrete buildings, and set out across a tree-lined street. As I kept walking I noticed huge shifts in the temperature and quality of the air, from stuffy and hot next to buildings, to refreshing and cool next to plants and trees. It was a very immediate and obvious reminder of my/our own total dependency on the world around us - particularly the green, growing world, for our survival, and the necessity of plants for our lives to flourish.

I also found myself thinking about the unexpected places where I find breaths of fresh air, or the times when i don't even realize that I need fresh air until it comes whooshing over me or gently wafts into my nostrils. Sometimes I think my life (our lives?) become stagnant and muggy and stale so gradually that I don't even realize what has happened until something awakens my senses, either by rushing in and shaking me up or gently and softly permeating me.

Once I'd had my first taste and sniff of fresh air during my walk the other night, I kept looking for those fresh breaths the whole rest of my way home. My nostrils were so entranced by seeking out that sweet soft air that they managed to sniff it out even in tiniest gardens along the way.

When the air of our human lives is so heavy and hot and thick, can we dare to sniff out wisps and whispers of sweet green goodness? As in the city, which may seem void of such lushness, yet where I found fresh air, we may find those whispers in unexpected areas, from unexpected people, in books we may have once turned our noses up at, or in the flotsam of our consumed and consuming lives.

The grace and power of greenness (what mystic Hildegaard Von Bingen called veriditas) can enliven and restore the soul, and is woven deeply into creation by the One who desires our flourishing. May we be blessed by its goodness.



  • One of the worst places in the world for me is downtown Newark, NJ. The only place I've seen that I hate more is downtown Belo Horizonte, Brazil. Both are intensely urban, with virtually no green. Just go a neighborhood or so out from downtown in either city, though, and sanity returns with trees, bushes and small gardens.

    By Blogger Adam Gonnerman, at 2:33 PM  

  • With a name like "Belo Horizonte", I'd think that at least the horizon would be beautiful, right?

    By Blogger Sansego, at 9:00 AM  

  • Sansego,

    It probably was when they built the city (it was planned but doesn't look like it was) over 100 years ago, but when I looked I couldn't see the horizon for all the smog.

    By Blogger Adam Gonnerman, at 9:50 AM  

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