Yesterday, while walking through the farm across the road from our home, I noticed a new pathway into the forest. I’d never noticed this entrance before and I realized that in just a few weeks, it would be obscured again, overgrown by leaves and vines. But right now, for just a little while, it’s open.
So, instead of continuing up the hill, I decided to turn to the left, and see where it led. As a result, I took a walk that I had not planned to take - and that changed everything.
As I stepped through the unexpected entrance, and the forest opened around me, I was surprised by my own response to the forest. a breathless, “Ohhhhhh…. “ which sighed up and out of my body, a spontaneous exhalation of wonder, of gratitude, and recognition as the hushed cathedral of white birches, enclosed me even as it spread above and around me in all directions.
I seem to have forgotten, this long cold winter, this year of isolation, how at home I feel in a forest. As a camp director’s daughter, I grew up exploring the pine forests around Lake Tiorati, just north of where I live today. My mother, busy with her second child and then her third, set me free on the sun-dappled paths. Once I could swim, I was allowed to the edge of the lake, where I’d plunk stones for hours, watching tadpoles scurry. Listening to the elder frogs croak. Nature was a friend. She held me. I was safe here.
Yesterday, as that exhale of recognition moved through me, I recognized her - and I recognized myself. And so, I started to walk. Now, there were many twists and turns - I found Indian Rock, the enormous boulder that my children scaled when they were small as I, stood on the soil below, calling: Be careful.
There were the backs of familiar cottages where families we once knew used to live. I followed the trail where I could see it. When I lost the trail, I looked for human footprints - and found them. I made my way.
Then, suddenly, the trail ended in a mushy, marshy bog - where the water streaming downhill from all that melting snow was collecting and gurgling, making its way to the brook that runs behind the farm.
Facing mud and marsh, wearing my favorite boots, as yet unsoiled, I realized I would have to turn back. But wait, I thought and I started to look around which is when I spotted, to my left, three wide, thick strips of bark which had peeled away from the trunk of a fallen tree. I gathered the bark and carried to the edge of the bog and the real adventure began. Laying one strip on top of the wet, boggy marsh, I tested, stepping on top of it like a ski, seeing if it would take my weight or if I and the bark (and my beautiful boot) would sink in the muck.
It worked! I set the second strip a few inches ahead and stepped again. Again it held me. I kept going. Balancing on one foot and listing the piece of bark behind me as I made my squishy boggy way to the other side. Boots dry. MIssion accomplished.
I felt like McGyver. I felt like little Amy, playing at the edge of the lake at camp. I felt… like myself.
So why am I telling you this?
Because after it happened, while I was walking home, I took another left turn. I decided to end my seven day series. You don’t need more spiritual lessons - and I have more important things to share with you now.
We have more left turns to take together. More insights are emerging every day - and while this series was going on (all week) I have felt more and more frustrated that I had to wait until the series ended to share my REAL thoughts, my present day reality with you. What I mean is, things like seven-day series feel outdated now. We are living in a time of present moment emergence.
More and more, I am living in that moment, from that moment, every moment and I want to share that remarkable experience with you.
So, I’m stepping into the wilderness. And I hope you’ll come with me. No plan except the plan that emerges before us. No map except that map that emerges from within. No seven-day series. Only now, where there is nothing but invitation.
Today’s invitation is: What ‘left turn’ is offering itself to you right now, even as you contniue up the hill? What small change might you make in your journey today? What entrance is opening right now before you?