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Into the Forest






Stand still. The trees ahead and bushes beside you
Are not lost. Wherever you are is called Here,
And you must treat it as a powerful stranger,
Must ask permission to know it and be known.
The forest breathes. Listen. It answers,
I have made this place around you.
If you leave it, you may come back again, saying Here.
No two trees are the same to Raven.
No two branches are the same to Wren.
If what a tree or a bush does is lost on you,
You are surely lost. Stand still. The forest knows
Where you are. You must let it find you.

-David Wagoner, from Traveling Light: Collected and New Poems

This is one of my favorite poems.  I love this line in particular: “If what a tree or a bush does is lost on you, You are surely lost.” I find that it takes time spent with trees to be reminded of their essential work.

I have been feeling the call of the forest lately, longing to listen to the forest breathe.  I walked into the forest on the coast of British Columbia and stayed a while cherishing ancient trees, pine needles, filtered sunlight, moss dripping from branches, cool creeks, smooth stones.  I stood still, letting the forest find me and I emerged renewed, more myself. 

Is what a tree does lost on you?  If so, then find your way back to the woods.  Listen to the trees breathe, let the forest find you again so you may find yourself.

-Christine Valters Paintner

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