Following the Path Less Travelled

My student, Susan's thoughts as she explores the woods and walks her spiritual path.

I took a walk in park not far from home. I had the expectation that this delightful walk would consist of sunshine, meditation, perhaps a good hike, along with many people and their dogs doing the same.

My walk was anything but what I had expected. In fact, the stroll through the woods was more enchanting and quite different than the sun-kissed afternoon I had imagined. My fairy energy took precedence although the skies drew darker. A misty rain came upon me, an unusual type of rain for Pittsburgh. My thoughts, doubts, and worries began to run past me like the stream flowing beside me. The leaves of the trees towered over me like a canopy, catching any raindrops that I did not need. I played my flute. The rain began to pour. At this point, I questioned whether or not the rain gods appreciated my musical talents, or lack thereof.

The rain ceased after some time. I came across a toad. Both the toad and I became squeamish of each other when I picked it up. Within a few seconds I was aware that the only thing to calm the both of us was to be aware of the moment and the gifts that it offered. We both settled into each other’s energy. The appearance of my new friend was of no coincidence. I later found that this creature directed the need for me to utilize my inner strength. The slippery creature also signified to me that my luck was changing for the better ( I found this reassuring even though I don’t believe in luck. Nevertheless, I was thankful for the encouraging visit from the toad since this is a time of great transition.

I thought my walk couldn’t get any better after my encounter with the toad. To my surprise I came across a beautiful tree only a few more feet away from the toad. The tree had vines winding around its trunk. Often times, if certain vines are not managed, they can cut off important nutrients inhibiting the tree’s growth causing suffocation and sometimes death. The analogy reminded me of how our minds can do the same thing. Nevertheless, this tree stood tall and let the vines enhance it’s beauty. I could feel the soft and calming energy of the tree immediately after placing my hands on it. Within moments, I felt at peace.

I needed to connect with the tree to remind me about the futility of doubt. A tree does not question where it will be tomorrow, where it will get it’s nourishment, or what creatures will cross it’s path. The remnants of the tree will be present long after it’s current life, just as we will. The tree trusts Mother Earth to help nourish it through the leaves that extend from the tree’s branches just as we can learn to trust those around us to do the same. Creatures like the bark beetle will try to destroy the tree while others will find a comforting home in it. We often act the same way towards others. This tree was the essence of Being. The only thing that it lacked was doubt. Doubt can be comparable to worry, neither one can add one more second to my life. I am reminded that I can be like this tree.

Throughout my adventure I was noticing my dog having the time of his life, as always. He leaped into the puddles of water while the few people who remained in the forest scurried to find shelter. He was enjoying life. I have heard so many times, even from the chatter in my head, "I wish I could be a dog." Well we can! Why not? Why is it so difficult to enjoy life just as a dog does? My answer is that I can choose to make life difficult, or not.

Sometimes a walk in nature can bring clarity one does not anticipate. Perhaps this is why many people love to be in nature. We are given a space to get away from the chaos of life and just be. We are able to connect with something that is physically outside of us yet connected to us. The question is, when will the time come when we are open to do this, when we are immersed in anything but a calm and peaceful environment? I feel that being truly present can only occur when one transforms the chaos of life into his/her sanctuary, just as we do in nature.

Susan started to cultivate a deeper relationship with the Creator four years ago when she was introduced to the works of Eckhart Tolle's, "The Power of Now" by Jim Tolles. Her life has been transformed in countless ways since then.


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