|Karen Andrews is a gifted photographer who sent me the following description of her time in the woods. I hope
that you will be touched by Karen (as I am) and inspired to take the time to be in a place that refreshes you.|
I decided to use walking in the woods as a daily practice to see what might come up in my attempts to get there every day
as if it were my job. I committed to doing this every day for a year, and began carving out a time each morning to get out
to either Bethany or Woodbridge before noon. The few days I failed to get there (and there were only about 4 or 5 the whole
year, regardless of the weather), I felt out of sorts and uncentered. And so the habit has now continued for over three years!
Each day, everything would be more vivid and alive as I tuned down to the rhythms and sounds and increasingly familiar sights
of what almost seemed like a foreign planet. I would often start out my walk a little frenetic, with a lot of panicky thoughts
racing around in my head, and it was sometimes an effort to take in the peace and incredible beauty and complexity all around
me. It now amazes me how easy it used to be to tune out all of that and be absorbed in my own thoughts. Once my attention
was fully out of myself, I would find myself breathing again, and slowing down and feeling truly inseparable from the woods…
I re-learned how to play. I have always felt kind of rigid and gripped, as if it wasn’t safe to let go and trust life or trust
my own body. So I took the opportunity of my solitary walks to teach myself agility by leaping from stone to stone over a
stream or by throwing myself into a pile of snow or jumping from one banister of a wooden bridge to another. It sometimes
felt silly to be doing this as a grown person, but mostly I was able to give myself permission to experience the childhood
pleasures I had missed…
If I went to the same woods several days in a row, I would be amazed at how much had occurred in the night. New things would
be strewn on the ground that hadn’t been there the day before, snow that had been two feet high would now be puddles, flowers
would appear where there had only been buds, the light was altogether different, the temperature would be different, the level
of moisture would make it feel like another place entirely. IT WAS NEVER THE SAME PLACE TWICE!
My strength grew from each walk. I was reassured as I pushed against strong, solid rocks and trees… Walking in the woods helped
me feel more alive and vital.
Because of my walks in the woods, I am better able to occupy my own body wherever I am.