When I went into the forest I saw...that how I entered-softly, slowly, and with care–was an act of respect.
That every step was a step forward and a goal and that each placed foot came from a lifetime of learning about impacts, positive and negative.
That pacing makes a difference and that the racing of my youth–full of excitement and impatience has gradually surrendered to an appreciation of grace and economy.
That stillness allows me to meet the unexpected. An encounter with a deer, so sensitive to the intrusion of sounds and smells, could only occur in and through profound silence.
That the breathing of my companions walking the difficult passages on the trail has become more important than "getting there." As if "there" is so much more of an accomplishment than "here."
That soft eyes reveal the unseen- a banana slug on a branch, a salamander poised on a rock, a spray of earth from the burrowing of a tiny, nesting forest elf.
That even when I don't see myself growing I am inching towards the sun of my destiny.
That we first learned to dance from the trees and the creatures that they shelter.
That every footprint that marks a trail imprints the land with a history, important in the moment of contact, then an anonymous gift to those who follow.
© Patrick O’Neill 2012. All rights reserved.