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Nature, Our Brains, and a Luminous World

“The world is so beautiful in spite of its troubles.” 
Terry Tempest Williams

Dear Friends, 

We welcomed the 2020 dawn of a new decade while visiting family in the Garden Isle of Kauai, a magical place of tropical rainforests, cascading waterfalls, dramatic cliffs, rainbow Eucalyptus forests, and sandy beaches begging one to snorkel. 

What a change to return home to a very different kind of nature’s magic with Spokane blanketed in 12 inches of fresh snow.  

TEDx Soul Space Video

We also received the good news that my October TEDx talk Soul Space is now posted on YouTube! You can find it here or search TEDx Linda Lawrence Hunt. 

In this, I was exploring, what gives some people resilience and strength when facing great challenges in life?  How can attention to our soul make a difference in our lives and others? 
Three minutes have been cut by TEDx for time constraints.  

I’d be honored if you took the time to listen, and if you sense it could contribute to these dispiriting days in our nation, please feel free to share it.  

A Thinking Companion:  Winter Reading

For Christmas, Jim gave me Erosion: An Undoing, the latest book by the evocative environmental thinker Terry Tempest Williams.  In her collection of spirited essays, she’s been pondering the assaults to American public lands, especially in her Utah home.  But far broader, she also explores the devastating erosion of the open spaces in our democracy, in science, in compassion, and in trust.  As she writes, “How do we find the strength to not look away from all that is breaking our hearts?”  

This seems like part of the daily decisions we each face when determining our level of consumption of 24/7 news. 

She also offers harbingers of hope as she writes, 

“Our undoing may also be our becoming.” 

Nature and the Brain

She argues for the essential need to balance our lives by also immersing ourselves in restorative nature.  “Nature recalibrates the brain,” believes Williams, quoting from scholars who study nature’s effect on human brain function.  “Attention is the holy grail,” says scholar David Strayer. “Our senses change in nature. You notice sounds, like crickets chirping or hear the river and you become more connected to the physical environment of the earth, rather than artificial environments.” She concludes, “By paying attention to what is real and true and authentic we come home to our self, the person we want to become.”

Children and Nature Deficit Disorder

Similar research shows the need for children, increasingly steeped in the digital world, to avoid what is being defined as Nature Deficit Disorder.   Richard Louv, journalist and author of Last Child in the Woods writes eloquently on how essential immersion in nature is for children. Check out his blog here

We saw this in action with parents and children at the spectacular Maui Aquarium.  It was deeply touching to watch parents encourage young children to “pay attention” to the wondrous diversity of the ocean world that Hawaiians are acutely aware needs protection.  One Hawaiian father comes with his three-year-old son every two weeks. We listened to his continual patient and inspiring conversation as he introduced him to wonder. Another mother encouraged her little girl to “look and see” with her camera.  

Do you have any children in your life that might welcome visits to the natural wonders in your neighborhoods? 

A Soul Space for Hawaiians and Visitors

A treasured place for our family is one of Kauai’s iconic sites, the historic Wai’ oli Huo’ green church on the north shore road to Hanalei.  Built in 1912, the artistic spired church with the original belfry is the most photographed building in Kauai. Visitors are welcomed by this United Church of Christ congregation with an invitation to add requests to their active prayer book.   

In a previous visit, we added our prayer concern a few months after our son, wife, and grandchild moved to Kauai.  In an extremely tight real estate market, their rental was ending and they needed to find a home. Not easy in Kauai!  Ultimately they found a reasonably priced duplex near Jefferson’s work in Lihue. Our great joy was coming back to the church with our granddaughter and writing a note of thanks for their prayers. 

Are you wanting to create better habits?

Do you want to build new habits or get rid of the old ones?  Our daughter Susan alerted us to her favorite “change” book Atomic Habits by author James Clear, one of the world’s leading experts on habit formation. Best part? He gives insights on how mastering SMALL changes in behaviors can lead to remarkable results. I like small!  

He draws on ideas from biology, psychology, and neuroscience to create an easy-to-understand guide for making good habits inevitable and bad habits impossible. We’ll see! I will let you know in a couple of months if I’ve made any progress building in more steady ukulele and piano practices.  

Are there any insights you have on effective life changes?

Life on the Land

Eleven Krista Colleagues stayed at the Hearth over Martin Luther King’s birthday for a Debriefing Retreat.  They’ve returned from service assignments throughout the United States, plus India, Bolivia, and El Salvador.  Together, they explore how what they’ve experienced can shape their future into a lifelong ethic of service. I loved seeing them relaxing in the hot tub and sledding, sharing meals, and life together.  Friendships formed often last for years. 

I hope you enjoy some pause time with good books, comfort feasts, and friendships.  Winter blessings! 


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Linda Lawrence Hunt, The Hearth, Spokane WA  

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Linda Lawrence Hunt · The Hearth · Spokane, WA 99218 · USA

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