- October 13, 2021
Reverend Beth Jones was born and raised in the mountains of Central Pennsylvania, where her parents introduced her to hiking and camping at an early age. They wanted to take full advantage of beautiful PA State forests and parks. She continued to foster that love for the woods throughout her life, and for the last
Reverend Beth Jones was born and raised in the mountains of Central Pennsylvania, where her parents introduced her to hiking and camping at an early age. They wanted to take full advantage of beautiful PA State forests and parks. She continued to foster that love for the woods throughout her life, and for the last 20 years, she has been leading hikes and backpack groups throughout the state. In 2017, Jones was certified as a Nature and Forest Therapy guide by the Association of Nature and Forest Therapy. She has witnessed firsthand the wholistic benefits of simply spending time in nature. After serving as a United Methodist pastor in a local church for almost 25 years, her ministry has transitioned into a full-time practice where she introduces people to the spiritual, physical, and emotional healing that can take place in nature.
“In 2018, I started Deep Green Journey as an organization that seeks to create space in the wild for people to find healing, wholeness, and delight,” Jones said. “The health benefits are remarkable. Studies in Japan, the UK, Denmark, and now, here, in the US, show again and again how time in nature reduces blood pressure, boosts immunity, reduces stress, lowers our heart rate, fosters creativity, and creates an overall sense of wellbeing.”
The spiritual and emotional benefits, while harder to measure, are just as significant. Jones believes deep down; we can find the pathway to our own healing if we allow ourselves that space to be vulnerable and honest with ourselves. “Often, we find that nature provides a safe place for that exploration to find the peace that leads to healing, a sense of joy, and a deeper connection with the Divine.”
Jones went on to say that it has been humbling to witness the change that can take place in an individual, even over the course of a few hours spent in nature. For example, recently, a participant of one of her forest therapy walks tapped into some deep feelings he didn’t know were present when he encountered two trees growing from the same stump. For him, this represented his deceased father, who happened to be a twin, for whom he had not fully grieved.
Another woman, as part of a weekend retreat, recognized within the gnarled branches of mountain laurel her own misgivings about her limitations in dealing with arthritis. She was able to acknowledge those feelings and begin to find healing and hope moving forward. “The expanse of nature can often help us to widen the spaces within ourselves to discover places of needed growth, healing, creativity, and hidden joy,” said Reverend Jones.
Deep Green Journey creates opportunities for individuals and groups to connect with nature through designated retreats throughout the year. It also offers backpack adventures and forest therapy walks. Jones also works with organizations to provide workshops and other outdoor experiences that foster communication, creative visioning, or simply time together as a group, always using nature as a conduit and guide.
“I feel like I am just starting to explore the possibilities as I work with groups and organizations that already work to promote health, wholeness, and spirituality in the community. Groups that support health care workers, educators, those in recovery, caregivers, leadership development, etc. The list goes on and on as we continue to realize the incredible benefits of time spent in the natural world,” said Jones.
Deep Green Journey will be hosting a series of ‘Healing Hikes’ at Brandon Park on September 15, 22, and 29th from 5-7 p.m. Hikes are open to anyone and are free of charge. Please register at Upcoming walks/Deep Green Journey.