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Walking Through the Woods: Recentering Is Good for the Soul

Updated: Jan 8, 2022

Maybe it’s the long and winding trails toward destinations yet unexplored that fuel restoration. Or maybe it’s the rustling of cracked and drying leaves yet undetached on towering trees that dispenses peace into my pores like a weighted blanket. Or it could be the occasional hoarse screech of a hawk overhead or the skittering of a squirrel on the forest floor as he gathers wintertime’s stash.

Maybe, just maybe, it’s simply the silence that speaks the loudest to my inner spirit and brings refreshment. Walking through the woods is good medicine. For me, it’s a way to find my center when life blows me off course. A job loss, death of a loved one, the end of a relationship. Those things that rip the fabric of your life and leave you feeling tattered, fragmented and incomplete.

Today, I hit the reset button and began a journey to find my center once again. A journey that takes the loose ends of the shredded fabric and re-weaves it into something beautiful. If you dare, a close inspection hints of the evidence of loss, disappointment and pain in the re-stitching of mended holes and unraveled pieces. And yet those places—once gaping or threadbare—feel stronger, more resilient and rejuvenated once repaired. It becomes an imperfect tapestry that tells a story of fortitude, transformation and renewed strength.

I invite you to walk with me on this recentering journey. Hear the subtle slosh of a mountain stream as it meanders over weathered logs and cragged stones. See the spindly trees and the lush mountain laurel sway ever so slightly with the gentle breeze. Feel the crunch of scattered leaves and strewn pine straw underfoot as the trail twists and turns. Touch the deep rugged bark of a Chestnut Oak tree that stands like a sentinel in a bend along the pathway. And smell the earth: rich, rustic and aromatic. Recent rain has dampened the soil as I walk along the trail today, giving rise to the scent of petrichor, an organic compound that lingers and permeates the air. It’s nature’s aromatherapy.

Before my feet hit the forest floor, anxious thoughts swirl around in my mind. I’ve struggled nearly all my life with worry. Too often, I let the ‘what-ifs’ overwhelm me and steal my joy. It’s been a slow and arduous battle of the mind to overcome the stress and anxiety and to learn how to let the joy of the Lord be my strength and to surrender to my Creator so He can make me new again. It’s through the constant renewing of my mind that I’ve been able to make the baby steps toward restoration. I’ve learned that the journey toward wholeness takes surrendering, trusting in the Creator of the Universe, and sharing my burdens with the Redeemer.

God’s faithfulness in valleys past remind me that His provision will not be withheld. Work will come. Grief will strengthen and build character. No wayward tear will go unnoticed or forgotten. A broken heart will heal. And love will arrive and prevail on a timetable ordained by Hands that are working even when His voice is silent.

And so, I am afoot, onward into the forest, mentally casting my worries and anxious thoughts into the gutter on either side of the trailhead. I disappear into the woods awash in muted shades of gray, brown and green. And I whisper, ‘Thank you, God for this beauty all around me. So quiet and comforting.”

Nature, one of the Maker’s good and perfect gifts, hugged me today. And for now, all is well with my soul.

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