Last week, NBC Nightly News had one of their Making a Difference segments on veterans finding new work on the farm and how that has helped many, including homeless vets and those with PTSD. Here's the clip:
One of the phrases used in that story was the title of this post- the "solace of the soil." The phrase jumped out at me and rang so true in many ways. I had a psychologist friend who used to describe the therapy of digging in the soil. He would go out and work in his garden and know the difference. It is, as was noted in the NBC News clip, a healing activity.
The experts are learning more and more about PTSD, for example, and how "talk therapy" alone may not be as effective as actual physical working it out in one way or another. We know that these kind of activities, after traumatic events, can reconnect us with life in some instances. I see it as getting "re-rooted" in the natural world, even participating in its renewal through planting, cultivating, harvesting.
That is one of the reasons why I like houseplants. It is only a tiny way, very tiny in my case, of maintaining some kind of connection in our artificial human environments. It is also why I go hiking and biking in most of the year or showshoeing in the winter (when there's snow!) It overcomes a lot of that nature deficit disorder as well as our disconnect with the physical world around us.
The story on NBC was a reminder of how powerful that can be.