Once Upon a Time in the Woods

The 4th of July. Independence Day. A three day weekend. I’m enjoying this extra day off, this second Sunday. And so is my neighborhood, celebrating freedom by way of loud explosions and the pop of firecrackers. 

I had two creative activities left to draw from this morning…both outdoor actions. I knew which one I was hoping for, however, I was open to receive the action that was best for me today. 

I drew out:

Walk in woods @ Wildcat. 

Yes, this was the activity I was looking for today, a walk in the woods at Wildcat Park, south of Joplin. I was thinking it might be more quiet in the woods, more peaceful. I was wrong. 

The riverbanks and the park were full of people enjoying the warm, sunny day. And they brought their fireworks with them. Rather than birdsong, the woods echoed with the sharp crack of explosives, eerily reminiscent of gunshots. However, the trails were deserted, and beauty surrounded me. I decided not to create a story about the noisy celebrations. I chose to let the cool and shadowy woods tell me stories instead. 

And so they did. I “heard” stories of survival and perseverance. 

And tales of spontaneity from the wild cousins  of my garden flowers. 

Here in the woods there were stories about Life…

…and death, told without sadness. The cycle of life was apparent and accepted, the fallen returning to the earth to birth new creations. 

I paused from walking to sit on a bench, deep in the woods. The pop, pop, pop of firecrackers faded away. I shared from my heart with the trees and rocks and flowers, stories of gratitude and love and hope. The woods around me became very still, as if listening intently. 

Walking again, I called out to Oak Tree as I rounded a bend in the path. Tall and ancient, Oak Tree is my favorite friend in these woods. We connected on a winter day a couple of years ago. I always stop to chat when I walk at Wildcat. Sunlight fell across him, as I placed my hand on his rough bark. I could feel energy coursing through the tree. Today Oak Tree’s story was that his neighbor had fallen. Indeed, there was a downed tree nearby, claimed by old age it seemed. I offered my respect and love. 

What an amazing time in the woods at Wildcat. I never know where the arrow of desire connected to the creative action will take me, I simply remain open. I loved the time of walking and receiving stories, of listening and sharing, watching and learning. 

I paused on a stone bridge, spanning a creek, and snapped a pic of my reflection as I peered into the water. As I sat in my car, I looked at the picture I had just taken, and realized there was one more story for me. The creek was still and I did not drop any pebbles into the water, nor did any fish come to the surface. And yet, looking closely, I saw ripples in the water radiating outward…from my reflection…reacting, it appeared, to my presence

Tears filled my eyes. I have an energetic impact, for good or for bad, on everything around me, just by being who I am. And that impact, that influence, ripples outward, often unseen and unknown by me, but out it goes, in waves, touching other living things. Be mindful, the creek and the woods seemed to say today. Be aware of who you are and what you sending out into the world. 

“I took a walk in the woods, and came out taller,” said Henry David Thoreau. Ah, so did I today, walking in the woods at Wildcat Park. I came out taller and with a heart full of wonderful stories. 

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