As a child I was fortunate to grow up in the country. I loved to run around outside barefoot and venture into the woods behind our home. The great pines and wild blueberry bushes seemed to beckon me. It was there that I would find great peace. Not that I necessarily recognized, at the time, that it was “peace” but it certainly was a different feeling for me. Simply put, I felt…happy…. content...and protected.
On hot summer days while my older sister read her Nancy Drew mystery novels and my younger brother played with his Matchbox cars in a pile of crushed stone my Dad would use, for who knows what, I would explore what we affectionately referred to as “the back lot”.
Within the back lot there were beautiful wild flowers that dotted the field. Bright orange and yellow paintbrushes, Black Eyed Susan’s and Queen Anne’s Lace which I would gleefully pick. The wild buttercups were a special find! I would pick them and then hold one under someone’s chin to see if they liked butter! If you don’t know that country girl trick, I’ll fill you in. You simply hold the flower about two inches under the subject’s chin and if you see yellow – they like butter, if no reflection then they don’t. Maybe not the most scientific of studies, but in our family, it seemed pretty accurate!
As I worked my way deeper into the back lot, the giant pines, balsam and Fraser firs would always look so inviting to me. I would venture in to cool off under their giant boughs and feel like I was in another land. It was magical! Deep beds of pine needles blanketed the ground which made walking barefoot through the woods a very easy task. The trees seemed to stretch endlessly up into the sky, so large, strong and proud. Their roots extended so deep that even during the windiest storm or snowiest winter they remained solidly rooted in the ground.
I would explore until I found the perfect spot to sit down. Once found I would rest my back against a giant trunk with legs stretched out atop of the needles. Ahhhhhhhhh the sweet smell of the forest which I still love till this day! It is there that my mind would empty and I would sense the presence of spirit. It was there, not in a church or cathedral or shrine that I felt closest to God and the host of angels.
Regardless of the season I would venture into the wood. Celebrating the birth of new life during the spring and marveling at the growth that would pop up all around me in summer. I would make my own little special altar of nature’s bounty; sticks, mushrooms and flowers. While doing this, I felt the presence of angels all around me, as well as the spirits of those who enjoyed the woods lifetimes before me.
Mossy rocks made the perfect seat for a quick rest; while other times I would gather the pine needles into a deeper pile and make a bed to lay down on for a longer rest. Stretched out looking up into the sky I would talk to the angles in the silence of my heart. And, yes, they did (and still do) speak to and advise me. Even during the cooler crisp days of Fall I felt that God and the angels were gifting me with the beautiful colors! I was in awe by the splendor of it all. In Winter, it was where I could find warmth by making a lean-to of sorts to protect me from the wind while bundled up in my hat, mittens, snow pants and boots.
Perhaps that foundation, built in my childhood, is why today as a woman, closer to 60 than to 50, I still find myself being called into the woods to ground and connect to something much higher than myself. Now before you poo-poo the idea and start to think I am just one of those woo-woo tree huggers (which to me would be a super cool compliment) ponder this. During the holiday season think about all the people who bring fresh balsam or fir trees and pine boughs into their home to decorate and how they relish that sweet outdoorsy smell! Even those who may have opted out of the real thing because of the mess of dropping needles admit they miss the fresh cut tree smell. During the holidays when you finally stop doing and actually sit down and look around, don’t you feel relaxed, at peace and like there just might be angels among us?? Heck some even put an angel on top of their tree!
When, if ever, was the last time you ventured into the woods? If it’s been awhile, or if you never have, I encourage you to treat yourself and spend some time amongst the trees deep within the bosom of Mother Nature. It is truly magical there. Find yourself a soft bed of pine needles and sit a spell. Then simply be! Listen. Within the protective shelter of nature, you just might meet your angels or hear the gentle nudging of Source pointing you in a particular direction, comforting you in your sorrow, rejoicing in your triumphs or cradling you in the arms of Mother Earth.
As an adult I am keenly aware that angels walk among us. I’ve met quite a few outside of the woods!! And I’ll let you in on a little secret, they are not only the ones we read about in holy books or whose names we know that lift our spirit when we are low. They are earth bound individuals, many whom you don’t know, that tirelessly shine light, love, compassion, mercy and forgiveness into the world.
If you haven’t experienced or don’t know the kind of people I just described – I invite you to grab a few friends and take a walk into the woods. Spend some time there and perhaps, you and your fellow travelers will experience the transformative power of nature and commune with a few angels. And once you do, I can almost guarantee, you too will be looking at the world through a different lens and shinning your light a bit brighter.
At a recent retreat into the woods my good friend Jake Paul meditates in the stillness. Look at the shadow on the rock! Angels among us indeed!!
The trees whisper your name if you become still enough to listen.