My time spent in the woods and wilderness has been my greatest teacher, mentor, spiritual guide and therapist. It's what heals me and where I feel contact with a reality beyond the dullness of superficial reality. I am fortunate enough to live in a relatively wild place that is a habitat of extreme temperatures, rainforest amounts of rain and snow fall, and an array of untamed wonderments that exist within an immense vastness of trees, hills, mountains, rivers, streams and lakes. It is here that I have not only grown to learn the beauty of putting roots deep into the soils of family, friends, community and love of place, but also where I have evolved the focus of my soul's practice as a wandering pilgrim, a colonial exile, and devotee to the divine mystery.
I have spent more than two decades now studying plants and their medicines. These years have been a great journey that has had many utterly beautiful gifts as well as many intense and growth generating challenges. Every person’s experience and contact with the green nations is unique and for me it is always a sacred activity. By sacred I mean that I have found the beauty, character, qualities, and healing virtues of plants, as well as the whole of nature, to be a dimension of divine creation that, if we are reverent and conscious of, we can become connected with. It has been my experience that with patience, practice, devotion and a heart-centered focus we can begin to perceive and become aware of our innate capacity to understand a meaning and significance of what would normally be invisible or disregarded.
First of all, I had no idea that I was walking on a bog in the beginning. We had just arrived in Ireland and I was anxious to get out on the land.
It just looked like a field any normal field in central New York State where I live. We had asked a local server at the pub why the “holy well” shown on the map seemed to be on private property and how did others access it.
His answer, “Fences are for keeping the sheep in, not people out.” So we climbed through and through and through.
From a descendant of the tribes of Europe,
Whose clan was from a land where she will never belong,
With those dead cheiftans still living as ghosts
In my twisted strands well wound
With old swords and sacred grains
Like great grandmothers and their salty spells
No one says anymore
Yet I breath, drink and eat
So I ask how I may honor you?
An orphan, with no seed jar from my ancestors.
But might I be your witness?
Might I sit with you, quietly and still, unarmed, vulnerable?
And sing you a love song?
May I put my ear to your ground?
I do feel the heartwood beating when I lean my heart against these birch trees and maples,
May I lean some more?
I feel as though I am empty
Though I have lots of tears to offer you,
They come from rivers I have never met but that were ordained by ancient, since murdered Gods
And may I leave a strand of my hair?
To you, and your wild Manitou
That hunt my homeless, colonial soul
No matter how many times I run from the fear of what I might destroy or take too much of,
I pray I leave you no violence.
To your antlers and coyotes and berry filled bellies, I must admit that I'm not sure how to stop the conquest
Even here, alone, in the woods.
And these hands to you
Seed planters always.
Amen, so be it