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This article first appeared in Pause – Advent 2019
The relationship between ‘doing’ and ‘being’ – the activist and contemplative – is a dynamic that may not be immediately obvious when thinking about Quiet Gardens. Yet the original vision for Quiet Gardens was developed by a group drawn to the contemplative dimension of the Gospel, who wished to explore the creative tension between action and contemplation, between involvement and withdrawal, between work and prayer. Indeed, one of the core beliefs of the Quiet Garden Movement is that, “Time spent in the natural environment will inspire our reflection and invigorate our action”.
Taking ‘time out’ paradoxically can be just the thing we need to ‘tune in’ and ‘take action’. The natural seasonal rhythms in nature revolve around activity and rest. It may appear that not much is happening in Autumn and Winter, but nature is actually preparing for the activity we see in Spring and Summer. Taking time to notice this and make space in our daily lives for the structure we find in the rhythms of the seasons can help us create a healthy balance in our life, in the ‘doing and being’.
Irrespective of where you stand in the debate about methods, it has been heartening to see the importance given to meditation during the recent climate demonstrations by Extinction Rebellion and the School Strikes. These actions have often been fuelled by moments of calm and meditation, with protestors taking time out in the heat of protest and confrontation with police to enable peaceful protest to be maintained.
In addition to the peace and energy we find in moments of calm in nature, we can also find it creates the space we need for inspiration, which may lead to those ‘aha’ moments that create new approaches to life and action.
Not only does research show that being outside is good for our souls and can make us happier, it also seems that we are moved to act by nature. All of which are vital for inspiring creative acts, and when looking at how we respond to the climate crisis, we surely need to be inspired to think creatively.
Quiet Garden spaces are there to help fuel and inspire you in your ‘doing’ as well as your ‘being’. We must remember the quiet and calm found in Quiet Garden experiences lead to action and hope beyond the boundaries of the garden.
Matt Freer, Projects Manager /
Continue exploring these themes in:
‘The power of nature connection to change the world’ by Matt Freer – read below or download the chapter as a PDF – This is Chapter 3 from ‘Earthed – Christian perspectives on nature connection’ (2014) by Bruce Stanley, Steve Hollinghurst, Annie Heppenstall et al. Available to buy at: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Earthed-Christian-Perspectives-Nature-Connection-ebook/dp/B07GBBJ98T/‘The power of nature connection to change the world’ by Matt Freer