Spring Therapy

Ahh. Spring! Thank you, Lord, for Your gift of the seasons reminding us of Your faithfulness.  Some disagree! “A faithful God? How can you say that in light of this horrible, Coronavirus striking people, taking lives, and causing economic upheaval?”

Yet, we are haunted by Thomas Chisholm’s old words, the hymn writer who claimed, “Great is Thy faithfulness!” He obtained this concept from Scripture (Lamentations 3:23) and through experience. In 1923, at the age of 57, having endured much, he penned,  “Morning by morning new mercies I see.”

We must choose to see God’s mercies. And we must choose to remember that Christ holds all things together (Col. 1:16-7),  even in a broken cosmos so that day and night continue to turn;  that we “are loved with an everlasting love (Jeremiah 31:3); that “The eternal God is [our] dwelling place, and underneath are the everlasting arms” (Deut. 33:2 ); and that this life is meant to be mortal, thus a portal into eternity (John 14).

So, right here on our own property in Fort Wayne, Indiana, I’ve been choosing to remember and to see Creation’s witness to God’s faithfulness. As Chisholm described:

“Summer and winter and springtime and harvest,
Sun, moon, and stars in their courses above;
Join with all nature in manifold witness,
To Thy great faithfulness, mercy, and love.”

Our fragrant Ornamental Weeping Crabapple tree in our front yard.

I invite you into our yard to view the lovely witness of ornamental cherry, pear, and crabapple trees, the witness of a Mr. and Mrs Goose and our black bird with a red and yellow stripe perching protectively on a cattail above his nesting wife, and in closing,  the witness of April Joy, a 36 hour old baby snuggled in my arms. Such witnesses are spring therapy to our weared souls.

“Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father;
There is no shadow of turning with Thee,
Thou changest not, Thy compassions they fail not,
As Thou hast been, Thou forever wilt be.”

Weeping, Ornamental Crabapple tree by our windows.

Spring Therapy. When I thought of this as the title for this article, you know what I had to do, don’t you? Yes, I had to investigate the word, therapy, and I did discover something unexpected. I can’t even start with what I expected, because the first thing I learned was unexpected.

Well, I researched the word first in Noah Webster’s 1828, original dictionary and then in The Oxford English Dictionary (OED)and then in the modern, Merriam-Webster Dictionary (MWD). (American Dictionary of the English Language is the name of Webster’s original dictionary published after 20 years of research, the first uniquely American dictionary.)


A view from the front left of our house on April 26 where I’m standing below the Ornamental Cherry trees which are just budding. Scroll below to see them blossoming in glorious pink – fuchsia on May 4!
















“Great is Thy faithfulness!
Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord unto me!”

View from across the street looking toward the left side. The white, ornamental pear trees sing a solo for a few weeks before the ornamental cherry and crabapple blossom, creating a visual trio.

Discovery #1. Therapy does not appear in the 1828 Webster’s! Wow! However, the adjective, therapeutic, is there as well as a noun version, therapeutics. From the Greek, the word group means “to nurse, serve, or cure.”

Discovery #2. Therapeutics was a term used to describe “that part of medicine which respects the discovery and application of remedies for diseases. Therapeutics teaches the use of diet and of medicines.”

Diet and medicines? It seems that in the 20th century in the United States, anyway, medicine forgot the diet aspect of therapeutics in the practice of medicine and has focused on pharmaceuticals and surgery. It has taken alternative approaches, such as holistic, functional, and/or integrative approaches to bring back the balance of purpose that once existed ( although it existed without our modern discoveries)! We can always learn from the past, letting old wisdom marinade with modern research….


Some of the white, flowering, ornamental pear trees that line the left of our property.

“Summer and winter and springtime and harvest,
Sun, moon, and stars in their courses above;
Join with all nature in manifold witness,
To Thy great faithfulness, mercy, and love.”

Back yard view.

Discovery #3. Webster concludes his definition of therapeutic with this quotation by Watts (I don’t know which Watts): “Medicine is justly distributed into prophylactic, or the art of preserving health, and therapeutic, or the art of restoring it.”

Wow! In the 1800s, medicine was viewed as both health promoting and preserving (prophylactic) and curative or restorative (therapeutic). Most interestingly, the old view of therapy (therapeutics) was that health care should be instructive: it teaches; and it taught proper diet as well as the use of curative medicines. I’m glad we are returning to this necessary balance.


Patio view


“Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth,
Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide;
Strength for today, and bright hope for tomorrow
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside.”

Near the back of our property you see our deer, Cecil and Emogene, cement statues, who live here under the pine. I named them. Sometime, I’ll tell you the story, if you ask me!




















From the OED and the modern MWD, I learned that the term, therapy, did not come into use until 1846. The OED says that therapy is “the medical treatment of disease; curative medical treatment.”

Note that the modern use of the term, therapy, can mean just the treatment of disease and curative approaches, not preventative. Today, there are many kinds of therapies: massage therapy, immunotherapy, physical therapy, and the list is long.


Further back of our property along the “creek” I watch this black bird with a red and yellow stripe on each side protecting his wife and nest below.


“Great is Thy faithfulness!
Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord unto me!”


Goose and Gander on a wander.  I recorded a two minute video in which the Mr. did a lot of talking, but alas, I couldn’t make it upload! Do you see the black bird on the cattails?















Here is my application of these “therapeutic” concepts to Spring Therapy.

I view the Therapy of Spring as a two-handed art:

The art of nurturing the health we still possess


the art of restoring the health we have lost.

(Note above Webster’s quotation of Watts.)

Spring Therapy nurses us in our sadness at this time of illness, death, and disturbance of  earthly security, offering some restorative medicine. Spring Therapy stirs us to see what is right before us: the colorful canvas of nature. It also stirs us to hear nature’s singing voice and to praise God for these blatant themes of God’s faithfulness toward us — promoting our physical, emotional, and spiritual health.

Nature was one of Jesus’ main classroom settings. He said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit” (John 12:24). The unburied seed is alone. This seed must be buried. This seed must die. Spring arises from the seeds that have died and that God’s nature have caused to bloom.



Ahh! The sun has come out for Cecil and Emogene! A fine day!


This principle of life from death helps us to face the realities of life. But there’s so much more! When Jesus said these words, he was giving context and meaning to his own coming death on the cross as our atonement and to the deaths through which all who follow Christ must pass. Read the chapter!

Can we see the loss of life as gain? How can that be? If we refuse to die (with Christ and to ourselves), then we remain that solitary seed — “alone” as Jesus says. Alone. But it is through death that we are born again and not to ourselves but in Christ to God and to each other!  This speaks of belonging. Belonging, not alone. Together. An eternal together.


Ornamental cherry trees in the front corner of our house and our neighbors’ house across the street welcome you into our cul-de-sac.

“Great is Thy faithfulness!
Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord unto me!”


Ornamental cherry blossoms.


A bouquet of ornamental cherry blossoms, from a few branches that Paul trimmed off the tree, decorate our dining room for a few days or a week. We’ll see how long they last.

Yes, as considered in my previous post, “Why Suffering,” our current cosmos, with all of its design and beauty, is also broken, and all nature groans in bondage to corruption (Romans 8:22-39). Our world is waiting to be freed from slavery to sin, aging, decay, death, violence, natural disasters on the macrocosmic and microcosmic levels….







God has not abandoned us or our cosmos. God has left a larger witness of His Loving Lordship through the intricate design of the universe – on the macrocosmic and microcosmic levels — from expanding, orbiting galaxies to the microbiome of our own digestive systems. It is wise to pray, as Jesus taught, “Your kingdom come; Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

Spring Therapy: nurturing health I already have, restoring health I’ve lost, and trusting God for full recovery in the Kingdom to Come (Revelation chapters 21-22).


Baby April Joy in my arms, born on the last day of April, a mere 36 hours old!!

“Great is Thy faithfulness!
Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord unto me!”


Categories: nature, Pictures, Spiritual Growth | Tags: , | 6 Comments

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6 thoughts on “Spring Therapy

  1. Beautiful post and a perfect hymn for the topic. Is it any coincidence the stay-at-home orders fell over the transition from winter to spring? It gave us the quiet and the peace to watch the natural world, held together in Him and by Him and for Him, bring forth new life, even from the womb. She is indeed our April Joy!

  2. Marty Zuidervaart

    Karen, what a treat! What therapy! So good to be reminded that the original meaning of the word “therapy” included the balance of preventative and restorative, only to be distorted by the dispensers of medicine (drugs). Is this an accurate summary of your writing or am I, too, distorting? The photographs are exquisite, the names of your yard “friends” enrich your hospitality to the reader, and your cuddling a new-born with that broad mama smile is God’s gift of “make-up time.” In midst of all this physical beauty
    healing the soul you intimately salute the spiritual reality that makes the physical so therapeutic–namely,
    “thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide.” As I age, Karen, the most satisfying therapies for me are what you celebrated in your blog–scripture, hymns, and God’s creation. Thank you for your ongoing sharing of the rich gifts that God has given and is giving you. Your blogs are indeed an oasis. Marty

    • Karen Thomas Olsen

      Thank you, dear Martin! What sweet words your comments bring. I’m glad you find refreshment in my posts! This , indeed, refreshes me!

  3. Anonymous

    Thanks Karen! Beautiful Spring Therapy! Love, Ron and Gayle!

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