I recently came away from a retreat Sara taught with some thoughts about healing and how it relates to вЂ?The Kingdom of God is Like a Farmer’ that I would like to share.
My profession is agriculture (Agriculture as defined by Merriam-Webster: the science, art, or practice of cultivating the soil, producing crops, and raising livestock and in varying degrees the preparation and marketing of the resulting products: farming)or more specifically, horticulture (Horticulture: the science and art of growing fruits, vegetables, flowers, or ornamental plants).
I have been thinking about how many вЂ?farmingвЂ™ words are found in the scriptures and realized I canвЂ™t pick up my Bible without reading such agricultural words as wheat, herbs, trees, plow, vineyard, harvest, seed, fruit, fishвЂ¦and on and on. These words must be important to God as He communicates with us by using them. The Bible says He is our Healer and that вЂ?He sent His Word and healed themвЂ™ (Psalm 107:20). It seems to me that acquiring an understanding of these and connecting to them will help bring wholeness into our lives.
In Needles blog, вЂ?BurdenedвЂ™, she spoke about stress and the need for relief from it. We know that stress is one of many things that brings physical and mental sickness into our lives and that we live in a world where we search for therapies to help us.
One of the successful therapies used for years by such well known psychiatric institutions as The Menninger Clinic and Friends Hospital is Horticultural Therapy. The American Horticultural Therapy Association website gives the following definition of horticultural therapy as: вЂњA process in which plants and gardening activities are used to improve the body, mind and spirits of people. HT is an effective and beneficial treatment for people of all ages, backgrounds, and abilities. It is: “a discipline that uses plants, gardening activities and the natural world as vehicles for professionally conducted programs in therapy and rehabilitation. Horticultural therapy (HT) is applied in a variety of types of medical and social institutions including hospitals, correctional facilities, and vocational programs. The therapeutic benefits of horticulture are many. Social development, psychological well-being, and physical rehabilitation are enhanced.вЂќ
The Holden Arboretum, Chicago Botanical Gardens, The Betty Ford Alpine Gardens, vocational programs, nursing homes, drug rehabilitation centers as well as hundreds of hospitals, all incorporate Horticultural Therapy in their rehabilitative programs.
That Great Physician, Jesus, spoke often in agricultural parables. I believe He is the Master Horticultural Therapist. I see Horticultural Therapy as being therapeutic because it connects to and involves people in tangible illustrations of Agriculture. Through sowing seeds, watering a plant, digging in the soil, arranging flowers, picking a ripe tomato or planning a garden, people donвЂ™t just learn the words or parables they experience them with their five senses.
As a graduate student in horticulture, I wrote my dissertation on Horticultural Therapy and eventually became a registered Horticultural Therapist with hopes of helping others through this therapeutic medium. Little did I know that years later I would need this therapy myself in order to be healed from anxiety and depression. Over time I have seen young and old gain healing from it also. Now as a high school horticulture teacher, I see its effects daily: helping to heal anger and emotional pain; improving organizational and communication skills; boosting confidence and self-esteem; and providing physical benefits.
If, as scripture says, вЂ?The Kingdom of God is within youвЂ™, and вЂ?The Kingdom of God is like a farmerвЂ™ than by connecting to вЂ?farmingвЂ™ and using Horticultural Therapy we can connect, understand and become whole ourselves.