Just as God's creation needs our care, let's make time to care for the "green spaces" inside our souls.
In today’s world, there is much talk about caring for the environment. But we should also think about our “spiritual environment.” It’s not something we hear much about, but it’s even more important than our physical environment.
It’s certainly important to value nature and to be concerned about pollution in the environment. It’s good to fight for green and sustainable spaces in the oppressive cities we have built. But we should also realize that our souls suffer similar, or even more serious, invasion and contamination.
Our world is polluted with stress, tension, raised voices, misunderstandings, divisions, unhealthy distractions, and so on. All of these stressors can make our internal atmosphere as unbreathable as polluted air.
People live consumed by haste. Few know how to converse with people of different opinions without arguing. We’ve fallen prey to anxiety and uncertainty. Many of us struggle to fall asleep.
Every day, social networks, newspapers, radio, television and computers fill our souls with mental “litter.” We cut down the trees of our values too easily, without perceiving that it is those deeply rooted sentinels that prevent destructive avalanches in our society.
In our souls, there are barely any green spaces left in which to breathe.
People need to remember that our soul needs the green spaces of the spirit. Neglecting the soul ends up making it uninhabitable. Turning our soul into an attic full of old trash is as inhumane as living in an unhealthy, chaotic physical space.
Green spaces to be respected
Especially during the pandemic, when we are often physically shut in, the windows of our soul must be opened. Let’s plant spiritual trees in our interior.
Human life, with its alternation of sleep and wakefulness, is very well ordered. But when we alter the balance, it soon becomes difficult to stay alert and function during the day.
We need to ensure we get enough hours of sleep each night. That means taking the necessary steps to make sleeping easier, such as getting at least a minimum of physical exercise during the day and regulating our use of screens and media before going to bed. Sleep is the first green space we need to tend.
The second major “green space” we need to cultivate is in our leisure time. Let’s make room to engage in activities that allow us to be active while also resting at the same time.
It’s not just about doing what we enjoy, because we can’t always do that. It’s about knowing how to give ourselves quality time in the midst of the busyness of everyday life.
We’re talking about relaxing hobbies (not watching TV and scrolling on our phones), and all the other “unproductive” activities that enrich the soul: the pleasure of listening to music and letting it echo and grow inside us, the pleasure of painting, or the beauty of sitting outside and reading.
Read for the pleasure of doing it. Read books “that serve no purpose,” books that don’t help you to “get ahead,” but that serve only to enrich the soul.
No time is more beneficial than that which is spent with a true friend. Chatting without haste, sharing memories that make us laugh—the meeting of two souls is priceless.
Another kind of pure air we can enjoy is when, for example, a father or mother spends time playing with their children, talking to their beloved spouse, contemplating a landscape in silence, calmly examining a work of art… These moments of communion with God and others refresh the soul.
Last but not least, there’s the green space of prayer. There, in the well of the soul, moving away from the noise of the world and leaving our worries aside for a while, we find truth.
We must ask ourselves who we are, and whom and what we love. We need the most important environmental space: to let ourselves be loved by God, first of all.
Take the Gospel and read a sentence, just a few lines, and let them sink in, like rain falling on the earth. This is pure water full of life, not only for our souls.
Our souls deserve to be cared for, just like the environment does. It’s not wise to live worrying about the air we breathe but forgetting the interior air that gives life to our existence.