i go to the woods

How I go to the woods

Ordinarily, I go to the woods alone, with not a single
friend, for they are all smilers and talkers and therefore
unsuitable.

I don’t really want to be witnessed talking to the catbirds
or hugging the old black oak tree. I have my way of
praying, as you no doubt have yours.

Besides, when I am alone I can become invisible. I can sit
on the top of a dune as motionless as an uprise of weeds,
until the foxes run by unconcerned. I can hear the almost
unhearable sound of the roses singing.

If you have ever gone to the woods with me, I must love
you very much.”

― Mary Oliver, Swan: Poems and Prose Poems

Recently, I’ve been bathing myself and in poetry and quotes about going to the woods. Sometimes, when the cold rains of winter chill me to the bone, I turn to words to warm my spirit.

You might have a favorite poet or writer who inspires a connection between your spirituality and nature. You may turn to those words at times when you feel challenged or sentimental. Perhaps they find you when you least expect them to, like this poem by Mary Oliver did with me this morning. I have my favorites, you have yours, and we hold onto to them in our hearts, souls, journals, and books.

Today, I’d like to encourage you to stop for a moment and engage in a bit of a prayer practice. Find some of those words that touch you and remind you of the simplicity and peace that nature offers. Locate the book, google the quote–whatever you need to do to hold sacred space with those words.

Perhaps you might select a short piece of the writing or focus on one quote and read it multiple times, a kind of lectio divina. Taking a way its meaning on a deeper level or feeling a greater connection with your Creator.

Now, I am going to ask you to be compassionate and generous and share those words with us. Perhaps what you are holding on to may touch the life of someone else or bring you in closer relationship to a stranger or friend. I invite you to leave those words in the comment section below. No explanation is necessary, but please let us know who shared those words with the world. It may be a famous writer or it might be you. Either way, the sentiment is no less meaningful.

The line in the poem above caught my attention. For its straightforward sentiment and because I am still mourning the loss of the poet. And because it reminds me of how creation has become an integral part of my prayer practice. I share these words with you today as an invitation to reflect on how you and nature have your own way of praying.

I don’t really want to be witnessed talking to the catbirds
or hugging the old black oak tree. I have my way of
praying, as you no doubt have yours.

Mary Oliver

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