The spirits that live on the trail

There are spirits that can only be found in the woods, on the trail, alone.

They tend to congregate in the places that are hard to get to.

When they possess you, you feel a great, expansive joy. It is a communion with an ancient and sacred part of life.

There is no avoiding spirits, or being possessed by them. There is only choosing which spirits you will commune with. I prefer these ones, out here, to many of the spirits of the modern world.

You tell me: do you want to be inhabited by the energy of the television, of advertisements, of social media?

I have to admit there is something seductive and intoxicating in that energy, but a better part of me sees that it burns us out. A part of us longs for something deeper and more abiding. Something more like… the energy of a tree. Better yet, a forest. An ecosystem, born of the Earth. The Earth has her ways; they run deep, and are profoundly balancing.

That’s what I find here, on the trail, by myself. It’s what I love most about running and hiking. That sense of coming home. There is something motherly about the energy of the woods and the mountains. I feel the breath of the great Mother flowing through me while I run. The farther out I go, the better.

We desperately need these places. I read yesterday that non-recycled toilet paper comes from trees of an old-growth forest in Canada – the largest intact forest in the world! Here’s a simple change we all can make: spend a little more on the recycled TP. Don’t use sacred trees to wipe your ass, just to save a few $$.

And then, come see the woods (or any kind of nature) for yourself. They are friendly… and beautiful, and relaxing! If you’ve never been an outdoorsy person, it’s never too late to start a new relationship. You don’t even have to go far out on the trail, like I like to do. You can start just by visiting. Take a walk. Breathe that fresh air into your system and just feel it. Let yourself be open to the energy around; if you pay attention, you might notice small shifts. The trees cleanse our energy, much like they cleanse the air. It’s easier to let go of unneeded worries and stresses, in the woods. If you ask, they will take it from you, and lift some of the weight off your heart. It’s those spirits at work. It’s part of what they do.

Natural places are so important. Visiting the woods might be the closest we get to returning to our “original home”. It’s like the womb of our whole species. It’s good to return home now and then, to be reminded what you’re made of. It’s one of those things that’s hard to measure, and maybe even more important because of that.

Hope you all are well. Sending mountain love from Asheville. Hope you feel it.

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