Landscapes - Spring 2020 - 66

THE PARTING SHOT | UNE DERNIÈRE SALVE

MUSINGS ON
FOREST BATHING
BRUCE SWEET
EN_ON ONE OF my recent walks as a Forest Therapy guide through
Homer Watson park in Kitchener, I brought the group to an abrupt
halt as a young deer wandered into our path. We froze in our
steps, as did the deer. We stood for several seconds gazing at this
most unexpected, but welcome, guest. During the sharing session
shortly after the walk, no one failed to mention this wonderful yet
unplanned encounter, which seemed to last many minutes. What
struck me most, however, was that "Nature," in the form of the deer,
was looking back at us. Was this an experience of mutual beholding?
Did the deer consider itself fortunate, as we felt, to happen upon us?
Did it share this encounter with friends?
Forest Therapy is based on the Japanese practice of shinrin-yoku,
which translates to"Forest Bathing." The concept is to 'bathe' in the
atmosphere of the forest during a slow and meditative walk (taking
about two hours to cover two kilometres) through a natural setting
to soak in the surroundings. There is no philosophy or belief system
associated with the practice. It is truly just about communing with
the environment.
I also wondered about the plants. In The Hidden Life of Trees, author
Peter Wohlleben describes trees as social beings who communicate
with each other. They even seem to care for one another by sharing
nutrients and warning other trees of danger. Their relationships are
both elaborate and cooperative. They are even aware when we are in
their presence. Many more questions arise regarding the sentience
of nature:
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What do plants and animals think of us?
Are landscapes along our roads and highways more than scenery?
If we see them as scenery, do they see us in the same way?
Are they, in fact, integrated communities?

66 LANDSCAPES | PAYSAGES

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Are trees more than lumber to be harvested?
Were trees pining away for millennia waiting for humans to arrive?
Do animals feel that we "complete" them?
Do plants somehow know we need the oxygen they exhale?
Do they know that we need each other?
How well do they know us?
Do they wonder what it is like to be indoors?
Does Nature derive any benefit from us?
As we walk on the forest carpet, are we welcome?
Does Nature see us in all of our variety and appreciate us in all our
shapes, sizes, origins, customs, preferences and textures?
Do plants wonder if we are algae or fungi?
What do trees make of these short-limbed, leafless,
rootless creatures?
Do they wonder why we do not change colour in the fall?
How unnatural!
Do we know that if we destroy the natural community, that we
destroy ourselves?
Do we see that we are a family in balance?

I have read many articles declaring that it is absolutely wrong to
attribute human characteristics to plants and animals, proclaiming
that the differences between us are vast. But this only prompts
the further question: do we not make a mistake by presuming that
humans are completely unrelated and not actually a part of all life
that inhabits earth?
While we cannot entirely define "soul," is it not still possible that all
living beings are bound together in this beautiful landscape we shape
and whose global breath we share?
Let's plan a family reunion!		
Bruce Sweet is a retired minister with The United Church of Canada
living in Kitchener, ON. He received his training as a Forest Therapy
Guide with the Association of Nature and Forest Therapy. He is also
a Spiritual Director and involved with the Wild Church Network.
brucesweet4@gmail.com
PHOTO RYAN WAKSHINSKI



Landscapes - Spring 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Landscapes - Spring 2020

To Begin With | Pour Commencer
Our Writers | Nos Collaborateurs
Prologue > Fr_ en_lp+ Sweeping the Forest Floor
Interview | Entrevue the Star Is in the Ballpark > fr_lp+
“Gravitas” – The Lost Airmen of the Empire
Creating Sacred Spaces – Weaving the Memorial Landscape
Sacré Montagne
Curating Calm in the Spirit of Mandalay, Myanmar
Kapabamayak Achaak | Wandering Spirit Healing Forest
By Invitation Only – Inclusive Playground Design
Battle of Kapyong Memorial Plaza
L’essentiel Est Invisible > en_lp+
Critique
The Parting Shot | Une DernièRe Salve
Landscapes - Spring 2020 - Intro
Landscapes - Spring 2020 - cover1
Landscapes - Spring 2020 - cover2
Landscapes - Spring 2020 - 3
Landscapes - Spring 2020 - 4
Landscapes - Spring 2020 - 5
Landscapes - Spring 2020 - 6
Landscapes - Spring 2020 - 7
Landscapes - Spring 2020 - To Begin With | Pour Commencer
Landscapes - Spring 2020 - 9
Landscapes - Spring 2020 - Our Writers | Nos Collaborateurs
Landscapes - Spring 2020 - 11
Landscapes - Spring 2020 - 12
Landscapes - Spring 2020 - 13
Landscapes - Spring 2020 - Prologue > Fr_ en_lp+ Sweeping the Forest Floor
Landscapes - Spring 2020 - 15
Landscapes - Spring 2020 - 16
Landscapes - Spring 2020 - 17
Landscapes - Spring 2020 - 18
Landscapes - Spring 2020 - 19
Landscapes - Spring 2020 - Interview | Entrevue the Star Is in the Ballpark > fr_lp+
Landscapes - Spring 2020 - 21
Landscapes - Spring 2020 - 22
Landscapes - Spring 2020 - 23
Landscapes - Spring 2020 - 24
Landscapes - Spring 2020 - 25
Landscapes - Spring 2020 - “Gravitas” – The Lost Airmen of the Empire
Landscapes - Spring 2020 - 27
Landscapes - Spring 2020 - 28
Landscapes - Spring 2020 - Creating Sacred Spaces – Weaving the Memorial Landscape
Landscapes - Spring 2020 - 30
Landscapes - Spring 2020 - 31
Landscapes - Spring 2020 - 32
Landscapes - Spring 2020 - Sacré Montagne
Landscapes - Spring 2020 - 34
Landscapes - Spring 2020 - 35
Landscapes - Spring 2020 - Curating Calm in the Spirit of Mandalay, Myanmar
Landscapes - Spring 2020 - 37
Landscapes - Spring 2020 - 38
Landscapes - Spring 2020 - 39
Landscapes - Spring 2020 - Kapabamayak Achaak | Wandering Spirit Healing Forest
Landscapes - Spring 2020 - 41
Landscapes - Spring 2020 - 42
Landscapes - Spring 2020 - 43
Landscapes - Spring 2020 - By Invitation Only – Inclusive Playground Design
Landscapes - Spring 2020 - 45
Landscapes - Spring 2020 - 46
Landscapes - Spring 2020 - Battle of Kapyong Memorial Plaza
Landscapes - Spring 2020 - 48
Landscapes - Spring 2020 - 49
Landscapes - Spring 2020 - 50
Landscapes - Spring 2020 - L’essentiel Est Invisible > en_lp+
Landscapes - Spring 2020 - 52
Landscapes - Spring 2020 - 53
Landscapes - Spring 2020 - 54
Landscapes - Spring 2020 - 55
Landscapes - Spring 2020 - Critique
Landscapes - Spring 2020 - 57
Landscapes - Spring 2020 - 58
Landscapes - Spring 2020 - 59
Landscapes - Spring 2020 - 60
Landscapes - Spring 2020 - 61
Landscapes - Spring 2020 - 62
Landscapes - Spring 2020 - 63
Landscapes - Spring 2020 - 64
Landscapes - Spring 2020 - 65
Landscapes - Spring 2020 - The Parting Shot | Une DernièRe Salve
Landscapes - Spring 2020 - cover3
Landscapes - Spring 2020 - cover4
Landscapes - Spring 2020 - LPplus 1
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Landscapes - Spring 2020 - LPplus3
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