Nature is my religion. My soul communes with the outdoors, gifting me great spiritual inspiration. I love the northern California beaches. Oceanic power induces deep meditations, harmonizing my center with life, rhythmically soothing and empowering me. I also love the soft hills of Sonoma County, my current residence, with its rich carpet of grape vines and dried summer grass. I cast my gaze, wanting to reach out and run my fingers through it, feeling the prolific sweet fibers of the wine country. But what I really love is a densely wooded forest, dark green canopies, cushy earth, thick quiet, the magic and mystery of the energies that entice me, invoking earnest delight and wonderment. What spirits reside there? I am not sure, but they croon to me silently, plucking my heart, tuning it like an instrument. I play for them. I dance like an innocent child.
In my youth, my father would bring my sister and I to the redwoods of Oakland hills where we lived. We would hike and search for faeries, gnomes, trolls and anything else our imaginations could lure into our visions. “They love to hide in the moss that cloak the trees,” my father would whisper, instilling excitement in my coasting eyes. Everything was vibrant and green. We hiked in the rain often with little more than an umbrella, lunch and a candle in tow. We would huddle around the single flame while nibbling on afternoon treats. The lone lizard would scurry by. Raindrops plopped on wet leaves, mud, stones, muffled by their journey. I had never heard such quiet or experienced such complete beauty. These memories never fade. Rich in luster, they flourish within me. I scintillate in nostalgia.
The closest forest to me now is Armstrong Woods. A mere 23 mile drive, and I can be coddled by tremendous redwoods. Last weekend, Laura and I explored these woods. Immediately upon our arrival, as we entered the density of this small wooded park, I opened- eyes wide, heart juicy and full. I hadn’t walked among the trees, ferns, dirt and moss in a long while. My senses heightened, enlightened, lifting my spirit, reminding me of my innate Self.
We journeyed within, walking deep into the park on a narrow paved road. We were alone. The silence was overwhelming; it folded around me. In the distance, I spotted two crows, walking the same road as Laura and I. They were far enough away to maintain privacy but close enough for us to clearly watch their movements. We were enchanted by the ambling pair. These two crows walked side by side like two old friends, soul mates, lost in one another and the simple pleasure of leisure. They strolled down the center of this narrow street, waddling, swaying, occasionally turning their heads toward one another as if in idle conversation. They looked like little people to me, small feathered people, enjoying the afternoon. Never before had I felt this way about wildlife. I am not sure if I was anthropomorphizing this interaction or, if on a deeper more intrinsic level, I was sensing their Truth. We watched the crows walk in front of us along our same path. They seemed to mirror us without knowing it. We smiled. It didn’t take long for the crows to sense our existence. Once catching on to our company, they leapt off the ground, swinging wings, calling to the trees, gently lifting into the sky. They were gone, leaving magic in their wake.
What really happens among the redwoods when humans are not around? Does the forest awaken to play and delight? There is an undercurrent of power, an unseen presence, that uplifts this wooded grove. I have always known nature holds precious secrets from modern man/woman or, rather, modernity has dulled man/woman from translating secret into truth. Whatever the case, I am unfolding, unwrapping my own gifts to bestow. I coil around and melt into the natural world. This, I profoundly sense, and watching these two old friends, the crows, solidified this sacred recognition, my connection to my Self and the landscape of spirit.
“The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness.”
*The artwork above, Two Crows, is by Mark Seabrook.