I want to walk daily, through forests and glens, to be among those I feel closest to – the birds, the deer, the squirrels. They don’t hide anything. They don’t judge anything. There is a cleansing that occurs in the woods, a stripping away of the non-essentials, a letting go of the unimportant, a refocusing of the moment.

I want to walk through the woods daily. I want that saunter and that time to be my job. I don’t know how. I don’t know who. I just know that if I don’t walk daily, there is a scratching away of the soul that occurs.

I sat at work just two days ago yet it feels like weeks, and after a lengthy lecture, listened to a mantra – you are worthy, you are enough, you are loved. Hokey, corny, meditative, call it what you will but I didn’t know I needed it until I found myself repeating the words and felt the tears. Some days, the focus of work makes me question everything and does little to help me become better. I feel unwanted and unwelcome. That mantra crystallized what I had been thinking. I am enough and the time has come for something new.

When I walk in the woods, I feel whole again. I smile at the call of the pileated woodpecker, the sight of thick-furred deer nesting at the base of trees, the melodic chirp of bluebirds, chickadees, and nuthatches. The acceptance comes from the normalcy of their movements, from their routine calls, from their sustained activity despite my presence. In the woods, I am me, wholly formed.

I am thankful today, and everyday, for my walks in the woods.

When I Am Among the Trees

When I am among the trees,
especially the willows and the honey locust,
equally the beech, the oaks and the pines,
they give off such hints of gladness.
I would almost say that they save me, and daily.

I am so distant from the hope of myself,
in which I have goodness, and discernment,
and never hurry through the world
but walk slowly, and bow often.

Around me the trees stir in their leaves
and call out, “Stay awhile.”
The light flows from their branches.

And they call again, “It’s simple,” they say,
“and you too have come
into the world to do this, to go easy, to be filled
with light, and to shine.”

by Mary Oliver