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My Peaceful Woods from April, 2006

I miss my woods...

Today, I made it to the lip of the valley and back, only once setting foot in snow. The way was soft with promise and scents of the awakening forest. I first paid a visit to Ripley, who rests in a little pine grove that I can see from my kitchen window. Then up the gentle rise and north along the crest, the warming earth springy beneath my feet. It's odd, I suppose, that no matter my route, I always end up at my tree. And today as I stood there, I realized why.

The tree is an old, gnarled pine, tucked into the slope of a narrow bowl just over the ridge from my home. Her roots sprawl out into an earthy lap where I have sat through many a mental debate and once curled up in hopes of dying. Mostly, though, I stand in reverence, as is due this small plot of God's imagination.

My secluded perch faces me due North and affords a panoramic view of the rolling glen that ends just above the water meadow. Nature has reclaimed most of the mining destruction, smoothing away the pits and piles, draping them all with pine needles, bearberry, and juniper. The world is cushioned there—traffic sounds muffled—breezes stilled—creatures discreet in their doings. Such bliss to stand in that potent silence, beyond the din of the everyday.

No wonder I jumped at the clatter of underbrush crackling and the whipping of branches. I expected to catch the tail end of the buck whose path I often cross, but there was no trace of him. I took a step, my eyes and ears pricked for the source of the crashing. And there before me, about five yards away, a lady Flicker flapped and rattled the dry branches of a downed pine, warning me away from her nest.

What a spectacle she made of herself, puffing her feathers and splaying her feet. She glared at me, daring me another step. I stopped in my tracks, rooted myself to the earth, and harmonized my breathing with the forest. In no time, Lady Flicker cocked her head, smoothed her feathers and returned to pecking the anthill beneath her:

Peace Restored. Peace emanating from the groggy woods. Peace implicit in the land.

I wondered why peace resides so seldom in the hearts of man.

Ah, but that is an illusion. Reality does not belong to grown up nasty boys who plot violence to fill their moral void. Those who see nothing as sacred ultimately reap their own disregard. Those who substitute hubris for humanity forge their own demise. Their only art, and a temporary one at that, is a loud and noxious voice. One that demands an equally resonant alternative.

Protesting will not do. In fact, anti-anything energy feeds the very thing it opposes. Locking eyes with that ruffled Flicker elegantly captured the power and simplicity of pro-actively Choosing Peace.

In this and every moment, Choose Peace.

Vocally and passionately, Choose Peace.

Make no exceptions, Choose Peace.

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