Day Two asks “What made your soul feel nourished this year?”
Some might imagine my answer would be “yoga.” And while there is much goodness derived from my yoga practice, it is not my go-to place when I need care and feeding of my spirit.
My soul is nourished in the woods. Connecting my feet to the earth–not just sidewalks and concrete, but real dirt and grass and rocks–brings me back to my center faster than any other practice, yoga included.
I like to refer to it as “my park.” Eighty-four acres of woods and trails and ball fields and playgrounds. It is nearly the size of Seattle’s Woodland Park Zoo. I can walk to my park from my house in less than five minutes and immediately be immersed in nature. I know every inch by heart, every trail, every hideout, every nook and cranny in my park. I am there weekly–sometimes daily–throughout all four seasons of the year. Each season teaches me an important life lesson. I witness growth and death and learn when to stand tall and turn my face up to the the sun and when it’s best to huddle into shade and wait.
Right now, in December, I have my park to myself. Rarely will I encounter another human on the trails once the days turn cold and steely grey. Fewer yet when the rain pours and the woods sing out their wet, percussive chorus. Two years ago, after a substantial snowfall, Max and I trudged our way to the the trailhead only to be greeted by what I can imagine Narnia might look like. Trees heavy with snow, bending deeply, craning their weary necks over the trail. The snow, nature’s sound proofing, creating a pristine and silent landscape. Max and I made our way carefully through the trail to the park. Silent. White. Magical. That winter day remains one of my fondest memories.
Come Memorial Day, however, I’ll have more visitors to my park. As the sun shines longer and the earth slowly warms, more and more folks venture into my park. I try to be a gracious hostess, smiling as I pass other dog owners and noticing the Pony League baseball games on early spring evenings. By August, my park is in it’s full summer glory, with farmer’s markets and splash parks and outdoor movie nights. I’ll still visit my park in August, but I am more discrete as to when. Early mornings and dusky evenings in August suit me just fine.
And then, as if on cue, come the day after Labor Day my park returns to me. Oh sure, there are still plenty of visitors during our glorious Indian summers but these visitors are a fickle bunch. The wind begins to blow and the skies begin to threaten and they race back to their homes and cars in a blink of an eye. My secret is safe with me, I think to myself. For it’s during this transition into autumn that my park teaches me my most important lessons. Lessons about not holding on too tightly. About letting go. Bending without breaking. Learning that even as we let go and lose certain things, those things–be they people or ideas or thoughts or memories–will stay with us forever, but in new ways. I learn that these things are tilled into the soil of our soul to help fertilize new growth. Nothing is wasted. The good, the beautiful, the painful and the dark, muddy muck of our lives…all of it as valuable as gold.
My park nourishes my soul. My spirit, my creativity, my words come to life in the woods.
If I see you there, I promise to greet you with a smile. I’ll do my best to be a gracious hostess.