Listening to the Forest
Forest Sunday, September 3, 2023, Holy Trinity, Grand Forks, British Columbia, officiating the Rev Simon Shinstone. Photograph by Kersti Jakobsson.
The forest and the bush are ideal places to feel immersed in the mysteries of creation. On the first Forest Sunday, the exercise focuses on listening. In this exercise, we should enter a cluster of trees or dense vegetation, remain silent, and listen! Perhaps close your eyes. Progressively become conscious of more and more sounds, especially the soft sounds arising in the forest. Name them in your mind and heart. There may be sounds of breezes, birds, insects, or the place itself-perhaps even the sounds of silence. Become aware that these are the sounds of life from a myriad of living things around you. You are immersed in life and life sounds. There are also sounds that are too soft for you to hear – the fluttering wings of moths, the beating of hearts in tiny animals, and the breathing of trees as they emit oxygen. Imagine them in your mind’s ear. Yet all of these sounds together combine in a chorus of praise-not like a human choir but a symphony of living sounds from creation. Listen to the forest as the psalm writer once did: ‘All the trees of the forest sing for joy’ (Psalm 96:12). As you grow in awareness, you may wish to join in the chorus of the forest and add a human voice. Beyond all the sounds, songs, and music of the forest, there is another voice, the silent word of God. For God’s Spirit is the deep impulse that created diverse life forms in the beginning and continues to create in the forest. Listen, like Elijah at Mt Horeb, to the word of God stirring life through the forest. Be still and hear the voice of God, the spiritual impulse behind all the sounds of life.