Like flower growing from rock
the world is full of tiny, perfect mysteries.
Secrets of heart and soul and landscape
taking root in hard crevices
in impossible silence.
that all one needs
is a crack in stone
and a seed of possibility…
On Friday evening, when I went for an unexpected walk through the woods with my husband and daughter, we discovered something that delighted and thrilled me and seemed like a perfect symbol of what I’ve learned from my time in the woods this March. It was rock with a small, perfect flower growing out of it. Difficult to take a picture of there in the leaves, I was so stunned by its beauty that I could hardly leave it…
Over the last 31 days, I entered this woodspace in many different ways. Angry, disappointed, sad, joyful, satisfied, tired, hopeful, prayerful, celebratory, creative, grieving. And, I left each day with a sense of inner peace and stillness, of quieted mind, restful body, and connected soul, if only for a few moments. While I’ve been maintaining my daily practice since January, what I’ve learned from the last 31 days of this blogging-every-day-project—the commitment I made to write each day about the changing tapestry of the woods each and every day of March—is deeper and broader than when I was going to the woods without the accountability of writing. While at times I’ve felt like I needed a break from feeling “forced” to write and laughed at myself over the self-imposed to-dos I too often layer upon myself, I’ve learned a lot. During this month I’ve learned that it is okay to be spiky, that it is okay to have a lot to write about and not a lot to write about. I’ve learned to do it anyway. I have learned about the value of this woodspriestess time as a spiritual practice. I’ve learned to move it forward in my day, to spend longer at it, and to make it a top priority. I have learned to pay attention and that I can always see something new. I have challenged myself to always see something new, to learn something new. I have learned that lessons come from sometimes the most surprising and unwelcome of experiences. I have noticed what shares the earth with me, the things that fly, the things that crawl, the things that walk. I’ve bonded with the trees. I’ve recalled that rocks sit around developing powers and wisdom. I’ve composed words I’ve gone on to use more publicly and in ritual.
I’ve realized that the spoken poetry of the forest is its own gift, its own language, its own way of exploring the world around me and that sitting on a rock with a recorder instead of at a computer or with a notebook, unlocks something creative in me in a unique way. I have meditated on the crone, the maiden, and the mother. I have asked questions about hopelessness and despair. I have listened. I have received answers. I have discovered questions. I have come to a more full understanding of my own place in the tapestry of life. I have had clarity and much as everything changes, I have yet to leave the woods with less clarity than that with which I entered. I’ve discovered ways in which my children can come with me and I’ve discovered ways in which children scatter my attention. I have blessed many sculptures. I have prayed for strength, safety, and guidance. I’ve asked for blessings on my work, tasks, and rituals. I have been ragged and I have danced. I have been forlorn. I have been buoyant and exuberant. And, I have watched it all. I have seen winter drift towards spring and then back towards winter and then back towards spring again. I have planned. I have actively witnessed and engaged in that invisible web of incarnation; consciously touched my thread in Her weaving. I have listened to my breath, felt my pulse, watched my thoughts, and gazed at the sky. I have held space. I have held hopefulness. I have held children. I have created art. I have been moved to tears. I have laughed. In this microcosm of the planet, I have touched eternity. I have tasted truth. I’ve discovered a means of touching my soul. I’ve cultivated an authentic and rich spiritual home and identity. I have been sheltered. I have listened and been listened to. I have heard and been heard. I have seen and been seen. I have known and been known. I have been witnessed into being and I have witnessed so carefully. I am a woodspriestess.
Thank you for the many blessings of this time and space. Thank you for witnessing me, thank you for hearing me, thank you for seeing me, thank you for helping me.
“As long as the Earth can make a spring every year, I can. As long as the Earth can flower and produce nurturing fruit, I can, because I’m the Earth. I won’t give up until the Earth gives up.” ~ Alice Walker
“This little patch of earth and this little pile of stones; I can wash the dust off my face and skin, but this earth is in my bones” – Ralph McTell
“…A big rock is a good place to sit and worship, looking out at the world. That feeling you feel, when you see the woods, the ocean, a flower, is the first-fruits offering of worship. The natural world, not the [human]-made world, provides us the right proportions, the right perspective. By naming that for your children, you claim worship as a common human experience…” –Gina Bria (The Art of Family: Rituals, Imagination, and Everyday Spirituality, p. 73)
“The essence of the spiritual path lies only in the beauty of the ordinariness, in the mundane, and in the freedom of separation between the spiritual and the ordinary.” –Dr. Thynn Thynn
As I was speak-writing the above, I was suddenly jolted by seeing my dog chewing on one of my precious sculptures. I must have left her behind after taking pictures one day and not noticed. Luckily, she’s still okay!
I also paid special attention to the maple that grows there out of the priestess rocks, thinking of how it too was once a tiny seed that eventually split rock, strongly and intimately entwined with its landscape.
Tender green shoot in unlikely place
Tenacious tapestry of life
This weaving unfolding before my eyes
This is my religion.