Healing Forests and the Benedictine Way

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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 curd-eating, denim-clad monastic community described in my book “The New Monastic”. It is the community whose rule of life for Associates formed the bedrock of my own rule of life, shared for 12 years with the brothers and sisters of Jesus Generation.

Not only the community but the forest itself was significant. It made me feel human again. It took me back to my childlike, playful, self, full of life and what some call well-ness. And in that place God has – a number of times – met with me and renewed me.


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 believer Benedict of Norcia.


The tradition of strict observance of that amazing rule (amazing because one and half millennia later it is still the most popular basis for Christian intentional community) has always 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 of lifestyles a person will feel rich and full in such a setting. Small wonder that their hospitality became sought out for the “resetting of the brain” that the video talks about.


Don’t be distracted by the fact the video is not an evangelistic or theistic message. I absolutely want to give glory to God for his wisdom. But my experience of God’s grace concurs with the insights of this video from “Healing Forests”. For that reason I am happy to embed this link and I hope it leads to a fresh blessing for you this year.

That;s because I love forests. Forests are a wonderful and healing gift to us from our Heavenly Father. I love living in a more naturey environment than I have for many years. And I am looking forward this year to being in it more than before. And I am looking forward, as part of my own rule of life, to sharing it with others…