I took a walk in the forest just recently with my younger children. We were on our last camping trip of the year and this time we got a site that was backed into the woods near Barkley Lake here in Kentucky. Armed with just my camera and a couple of tiny hands to hold, we went exploring and found more than just the crunch of leaves beneath our feet and the cool Fall air on our faces.
There’s something so peaceful and complex about the forest- All the beautiful disorder of fallen and decaying trees, various colored leaves, and the beginnings of new life. I pointed out to my daughter a tiny sapling growing at the bottom of what used to be a towering evergreen. I explained to her that the now rotting tree was still serving a purpose by slowing decaying and adding nutrients to the forest floor for new life. We then began stepping gently over every tiny tree we found to honor this new growth. Many of the fallen, yet once mighty, trees became jungle gyms for my children. They giggled as we challenged each other to walk along the length of the tree. Parents and grandparents spend far too much much money on shiny new toys! The joy my children found just exploring and playing in the woods, I’ve never seen them experience to this level with any new Christmas toy.
Being in the woods that day brought such calm to my mind and soul. I truly believe I was more relaxed and peaceful than I’d been in a very long time. Breathing even came easier. All my thoughts of time and “to do” vanished as I soaked in God’s creation. I’ve always loved walking in the forest. I love the absence of manmade structure and the awesome chaotic beauty in the trees, plants, and the sounds of birds and insects. I love the quiet sounds of the wind brushing over limbs and leaves and the sparkle of the sun peaking through as it slowly descends for the evening.
When it came time to head back to our camp site, we actually lost our direction. Funny, though, how we weren’t too ruffled by this. Unfortunately, we finally got back on the right path and headed toward the campground. On our walk back, I decided that this must become a new habit– taking my babies into the forest to play, to explore and to be who they are – children. I too, need more time in the forest – more time to unwind and absorb the tranquility of God’s creation. Perhaps our next long walk will be in a forest after the first winter’s snowfall? I can hardly wait!