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“Nature doesn’t bang any drums when she bursts forth into flower, nor play any dirges when the trees let go of their leaves in the fall. But when we approach her in the right spirit, she has many secrets to share. If you haven’t heard nature whispering to you lately, now is a good time to give her the opportunity.”

~ Osho, Osho Zen Tarot: The Transcendental Game of Zen

study by Japanese medical researchers evaluating the healthy benefits of walking in a dense forest. They suggested two to four hours of walking in the woods for stress reduction, plus regularly spending three days and two nights in a forested area to yield cancer-protecting effects. Might we see prescriptions for forest bath- ing in the future for patients diagnosed with high blood pressure or hypertension? I’ve been lucky enough to spend whole days in my favorite woods this sum-


Sanctuary Paul David Bond

Paul Bond’s magical realism artworks illuminate a dreamlike world where anything is possible as he deftly juxtaposes and rearranges common elements to convey universal spiritual or metaphysical ideas. Sometimes his paintings are simply uplifting illusions, expressing some facet of the whimsi- cal, surreal and fantastic side of life. Always, they are soothing, visual medi- tations intended to delight the imagina- tion and energize the soul. Rearranging familiar objects gives Bond the visual symbols he uses as a language to reflect an emotion or thought he’s entertaining at the mo- ment. “Very often, a painting is born from something randomly seen from a car window or a line in a novel or song,” he explains. “If it stirs my curi- osity, it finds its way into my work.” Of Sanctuary, Bond says, “The

woman offers respite to the birds fly- ing in mid-ocean. All of us have some place or person that serves as our personal sanctuary—a lover, child or parent, home, God or a combination of these. It is a place where we know we are safe to be our true selves with- out fear of judgment. In that safety we are free to grow and flower.”

View the artist’s portfolio at

6 Collier/Lee Counties

mer, the tall pines, white birches and other hardwoods lining the hiking paths and paddling streams in northern Michigan. My spirit has been craving to be where I first put down roots as a child, an environment where my growing nature deficien- cy could get back on life support and reconnect with our living, breathing Earth for long periods of time.

I feel especially blessed to be present for a northern autumn this month, anticipating walks among God’s glorious palette of alizarin crimsons, yellow ochres and cadmium oranges as fall’s cool- ing temperatures bring leaf hues to peak vibrancy. Likewise, at home in Southwest Florida it’s hard to let the sun set without witnessing it, either. I love walking barefoot along the beach, bathing in the light of painted clouds. The beauty our Creator provides always re-

minds me how essential connection with nature is to my well-being, and how we all depend on one another to care for the well-being of the natural world that sustains us. In this month’s special Envi- ronment issue, we address some critical challenges Mother Earth is facing as a result of humanity’s disconnection from her delicate balance. Perhaps it’s a spiritual awakening we need more than anything. Lately, the only inspirations deep enough to sustain the core of my being come from go- ing deep into nature for long periods of silence to just be and listen. Thank goodness we have several environmental heroines in Southwest

Florida that have been working to protect our heritage as fiercely as a mother protects her offspring. Having joined forces with each of these women over the years, I recognize their spiritual callings at work, so essential to remaining tire- lessly vigilant and active in their chosen unpaid roles. I think of them often when wandering the woods these days. Find out how you can get involved on page 36. I wonder what might shift if we all took a few days to go into the woods to sit silently from time to time. When you do, stay until you feel an integral part of the natural world… one with the healing wisdom of the planet.

To your natural brilliance, Sharon Bruckman, Publisher ’ve been doing a lot of “forest bathing” lately. It’s a term I first saw used in a

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