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A Walk, a Wandering, and a Wonderment of the World

By Elaine Veltri

Maybe it’s the long and winding trails toward destinations yet unseen that fuel restoration. Or maybe it’s the gentle rustling of leaves adorning the towering trees that dispenses peace into my pores like a weighted blanket. Or, quite possibly, it’s the occasional screech of a hawk overhead or the skittering of a squirrel on the forest floor as he gathers stash for sustenance.

Maybe, just maybe, it’s simply the silence that speaks the loudest to my spirit and brings refreshment to my soul. When I need to recharge, I disconnect from the things of this world and retreat to the woodlands, where rejuvenation awaits me under a canopy of green and along meandering paths bordered by the splendor of solitude.

Walking through the woods is good medicine. When life blows me off course, I find my center among the trees. A job loss, the death of a loved one, or the end of a relationship—those things that rip the fabric of life and leave tatters and fragments in their wake—need acknowledgment, nurturing, and tender loving care.

And so, walking through the woods becomes my antidote that wakes up all my senses, grounds me in the moment, and cradles me in its warm embrace. I lend my ear to hear the subtle slosh of a mountain stream as it cascades over weathered logs and cragged stones. I fix my eyes on the spindly trees and the lush mountain laurel that sway ever so gently in the subtle breeze. I feel the crunch of strewn pine straw underfoot as the trail twists and turns, ascends and descends. I sink my fingers into the deeply rutted bark of a Chestnut Oak tree that stands like a sentinel in a bend along the pathway. And I smell rain-drenched soil and earth: rich, rustic, and raw: nature’s aromatherapy.

As my feet shuffle one after another along the dirt path, anxious thoughts swirl around my head. I’ve struggled nearly all my life with worry. Too often, I’ve let the ‘what-ifs’ overwhelm me and steal my joy. It’s been a slow and arduous battle of the mind to overcome stress and anxiety and to learn how to let the joy of the Lord be my strength. I’ve learned that the journey toward wholeness takes surrendering, trusting in the Creator of the Universe, and unburdening while traversing the trails in the woodlands.

With every hike through the woods, I am fed, embraced, and encouraged. If you look closely enough, I’ve decided there are life lessons hidden among the winding trails. By being introspective and contemplative as I walk, I learn more about myself, my life’s purpose, and how I can become a better human being.

I’ve realized that life is very much like a hike with its ups and downs, dips and peaks, and smooth and rough patches. At times, a hike can be daunting and challenging. Just when you feel like turning around and giving up, something inside you compels you to keep pushing forward because you just can’t resist the possibility of glimpsing something beautiful just around the bend. You might miss a majestic waterfall, a mesmerizing rock formation, a playful game of tag between a pair of squirrels, or an expansive lake shimmering with dapples of sunlight that seem to dance on its surface.

And like a hike, life’s ups and downs, its highs and lows, its lullabies and lamentations either propel us forward, keep us stuck, or incapacitate us. And yet, we forge ahead in life because it is the right thing to do and because there’s always hope and something to behold around the twists and turns. Giving up could very well mean you miss something extraordinary just up ahead: a new job opportunity, your one true love, or the chance to change someone’s life.

And so, in the whispers of the woods and the wind, I open my heart to hear: Work will come; grief will not end me; a broken heart will heal; and love will arrive and prevail on a timetable ordained by Someone greater than I who’s working even when His voice is silent.

Therefore, I am afoot, onward into the forest, silently casting my worries and anxious thoughts into the wind. I succumb to this masterpiece painted in muted shades of gray, brown, and green. I surrender to this feast for the senses. I am in awe of it all. This beauty all around me, so profoundly quiet and comforting, speaks promise into my spirit.

At the end of the journey, I declare myself filled and fed. Nature, one of the Maker’s good and perfect gifts, hugged me today. And I can honestly say all is well with my soul.

One comment

  1. What a wonderful read! I felt like you took me to the woods and my soul was refreshed!

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