Healing Forests and the Benedictine Way


Some of the most powerful moments of renewal in my own life have been experienced on retreat in the middle of a hundred acre wood in Crawley Down, Sussex, England. The forest of  the fermented-curd-eating, denim-clad monastic community is described in my book “The New Monastic”. Not only the community but the forest itself was significant. It made me feel human again. It re-evoked my childlike, playful self, full of life and health.


The guesthouse of the Community of the Servants of the Will of God

The siting of that community in the middle of a forest was no accident. The Community of the Servants of the Will of God follows the classic Benedictine rule, formed in the 500s AD by the young Italian seeker, Benedict of Norcia.


For one and a half millennia the tradition of that rule has been to site monastic communities in nature, near woods, elevated and with a view, preferably a water view. Among the practical reasons for this policy was the insight that even with the most frugal and austere of monastic lifestyles a human being will always feel rich and full when resident in the nature and beauty of such a setting. Small wonder that Benedictine hospitality became sought out for what the video below calls “resetting the brain.”

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The video is not an evangelistic or theological message. My experience of spiritual renewal agrees with the insights of this video from “Healing Forests”.

I love forests. Forests are a wonderful and healing gift. I love living in a more natural environment than I did for many years. And I am looking forward this year to being in it more than ever before and to sharing it with others. For that reason I offer it to you and hope it leads to a fresh blessing for you this year.