I received my son’s school newsletter and it had the following compelling information…

Of course, who hasn’t felt better after tending their tomato plants or walking in the park? But a growing body of scientific studies suggests even passive contact, like glimpsing nature from the window of a speeding car or looking at a picture of nature, can be as therapeutic as physically being in the midst of it. The bottom line: Nature can provide nurture — for the young, old, healthy, and sick. It can nurture those in a car, a hospital, a dorm room, and even a prison.

The problem is that directed attention is a finite resource-everyone has expiereinced the fatigue of taking a test or a big project at work.  Attention restoration theory suggests that walks in nature and views of green space capture our involuntary attention, giving our directed attention a needed rest.  ” We advocate that children be given views of green space from the classroom,”  Dr. Faber Taylor said.  ” We’ve done research on children in public housing that shows the ones who have a green view perform better on a broad range of tasks.”  

Why does nature have this kind of power?

“We have two kinds of attention,” says Andrea Faber Taylor, an environmental psychologist and postdoctoral research associate at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. “Directed, attention, which we use when driving or doing our taxes, for example, is effortful and gets tired. When directed attention is fatigued, we feel trashed and it’s hard to make good decisions and to inhibit one’s impulses.

Faber Taylor says the best way to restore directed attention is by giving it a rest and relying on our second type of attention.

“Involuntary attention is what we use when we stop thinking in an effortful way, like when we watch a fire or meditate,” she says. “Looking at nature is soothing and undemanding of our attention. This uses our involuntary attention, enabling directed attention to rest and recover.”

If you are a typical Western evangelical you are likely experiencing Direct Attention Fatigue.  You have heard so many sermons, teachings, things to do and things not to do, ways of praying, ways of not praying.  If you are a faithful church goer that means you have heard on average of 52 sermons each year.  If you have been in the church for 20 years that means that you have heard approximately 1040 sermons (this does not include Sunday evening services, podcasts, books, tapes and the list goes on).  WE ARE TIRED, FATIGUED, THEOLOGICALLY STUFFED TO THE GILLS.  

What we need is some Attention Restoration.  

It appears that God also believes in the Attention Restoration Theory.  If you begin to look at the places where God interacts and reveals himself it consistently surrounded by nature themes.

-Walking with Adam and Eve in a garden

-Moses and 10 commandments given on top of a mountain

-Jesus baptism in the middle of a flowing river

-Transfiguration on top of hill

-Teaching moments with his disciples on a boat in the middle of a terrific storm, on a hillside sharing the beatitudes, 

Our churches need some green space.  Some park benches void of all calls to new methods, ways and the latest 40 day do this and everything will be better. Our brains need some rest and our eyes need to be re-engaged again.

We serve a God who says taste and see.  Not read and think.  

Dr. Faber Taylor notes that in adults, there is also evidence that a green view is beneficial.  “Most people recognize the pattern,” she notes.  “For so long we have ignored the effect our physical environments have on our ability to pay attention.”

If our physical environment does have a profound effect our our ability to pay attention what would this means for the architecture of our churches, bible schools and seminaries, even our homes?  Most evangelical churches and seminaries are closed, cold and windowless boxes.  (in fact now that I think of it, not one of the numerous churches I have attended had windows of any sort)  

What kind of “Green space” could be incorporated into our sacred spaces?

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So why a blog? Really does the world need another presumptuous voice, spewing more thoughts and opinions into the blog-o-sphere. (this is especially concerning as I needed my spell check to spell “presumptious”)

But yes, and here are the reasons…

1. I am a rationale, emotion stuffing mennonite. It’s not that there are not things going on in me, but the things that are there I’d rather not share. At least out loud. And so in my natural extremism, what a better medium to share my thoughts and feelings than a blog in which anyone can view my inner dialogue. Many of my thoughts/feelings will likely be in a form of roadkill. The problem with ignoring the dead things along the road is that it makes things a lot messier than they need to be.

2. It is setting the stage for my macbook pro. I need reasons to get a macbook. Really good reasons. Every good toy starts with an even greater excuse for getting that toy.

IE. “Honey, if I get a macbook I can spend more time with you since I will be more efficient with work. It will actually be a time saver.” Funny thing is I actually believe this.

3. Because I can. Now I don’t say that as a smart-donkeyed response to the individualism and self rights that possesses much of the western world.

I get to speak in terms of my relation and correlation to this beautiful world. No one has has the oldest son-Canadian-mennonite-bible school-christian and missionary alliance-pentecostal-fundamentalist-ex youth pastor-american-father-2 kids-home inspector-ex capitalist-cell group-house church-emerging church-Jesus centered history that I have. I realize that my life is a map.

4. I need to express. I don’t play music, I’d don’t cook(other than a great eggs and bacon breakfast), I’m not an artist, but I’ve come to realize that I need to express. Something needs to get out of me to make me sane. (BTW, I think that is the same for you, for all of us, we all need to express.)

So there it is.

Out of the desert and into the Sun.