my dear friend,
When I was once weary, someone told me to walk more often among the quiet trees. Do you find the woods a place of refuge?
Last night I went to the woods—I knew I'd need something after saying some quiet, tear-filled goodbyes to people I love, but won't see often anymore. Sometimes our souls are tight with emotion, but there is no opening to release. Fear dams the flow, for we wince at the thought of the deluge that might drown us.
So I went to the woodlands, to a little park called Pond Brook, where I'd been once before. I'd forgotten its beauty, and its bite.
The first curve of the path brings me to a long tunnel of green, with wide windows painting stripes. I walk straight into mystery. Delight and curiosity (and annoyance) compete for a pace. I stop and start, speed and slow: I see the pale clouds through a wide window, wonder where the green hall will take me, find three mosquitoes on my arm.
The tunnel is the entrance to a cathedral, tall and green. Leafy limbs make pointed arches, and the roof is all patterned, stained glass, turning even my skin a slight green. I slow and spin, then feel the sting of a pesky mosquito.
There is more, so much more to the 1.6 mile trail—hundreds of tiny frogs scattering at my feet, glowing mushrooms like little villages of suns in the shadow of an old tree, a quiet field of flowers where deer flick up their tails in fear as I walk by.
I left refreshed, if a little itchy. But even the mosquitoes demanded my attention be directed to the place where I walked. My mind did not pace incessantly over the weight of my life circumstances. The tight swell of feeling receded like a tide, and I felt I could see the world and myself a little more clearly. I felt the presence of God beautifully near.
May I recommend a walk in the woods for you, too? Alone is best for looking. But a friend can help us see differently, too.
May I also recommend some bug spray? Or perhaps not, if you need an extra nudge to pay attention. For "it sometimes happens that I cannot easily shake off the village" and really be present in the woods, as Thoreau* would explain.
Where are the woodlands in which you walk? I'd love to hear about them. Take me with you!
*Walking (an essay) by Henry David Thoreau