Healing Forests and the Benedictine Way

Beautiful trees by Paul Gill

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”. 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 wellness.


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 that rule 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 human being will always feel rich and full in such a setting. Small wonder that Benedictine hospitality became sought out for what the video below calls “resetting the brain.”


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 to us from our Heavenly Father. I love living in a more natural environment than I have 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.