For as long as I can remember, I’ve felt a pull to the mountains.
As a little girl, they scared me. I’d walk to the edge and turn around to the home my father built.
The trail was thin that slid into the dark timber and disappeared.
You’ll be swallowed too, I’d think.
When the town I grew up in became too small and my heart too restless, I ran to the city filled with its clean stores and dirty streets. It was exciting.
Years later, I’d be back in the small town where I grew up, kids in tow. A pent-up frustration had been building in me, although I didn’t know why.
The only thing that made sense, and no sense at all, was to finally follow the thin trail into the dark where sunlight didn’t seem to have as much power.
So I did.
For over a decade I’ve walked and ran and cried and laughed among the trees. I’ve turned my face upward as rain dripped and wind whipped yellow leaves to the forest floor. I’ve stopped to listen to owls out past the first light of morning, stellar jays make rare appearances, and the incessant rap of the woodpecker hunting for food. I walked through the evergreens with my girlfriends and family, awed by the dew and wild columbines. Above our heads, the trees stood guard.
How I go to the woods
Ordinarily, I go to the woods alone, with not a single friend, for they are all smilers and talkers and therefore unsuitable.
I don’t really want to be witnessed talking to the catbirds or hugging the old black oak tree. I have my way of praying, as you no doubt have yours.
Besides, when I am alone I can become invisible. I can sit on the top of a dune as motionless as an uprise of weeds, until the foxes run by unconcerned. I can hear the almost unhearable sound of the roses singing.
If you have ever gone to the woods with me, I must love you very much.”-Mary Oliver
I’ve sat on hillsides looking at the depths that can’t be reached, and it was there, face turned upward, I unleashed my most fervent prayers. For years I understood I was walking on holy ground, but last summer I uttered words that were beyond me.
At that moment my hunger for her became apparent.
Nowhere in my life had anyone talked about Her.
I’d grown up where every spiritual figure I’d known had been a man. Eve was the only woman with significant mention. To some she brought the downfall of Man. To others, she was the one brave enough to do what Adam wouldn’t. But it was men who then continued to see God and part seas and hand out cards for membership to the Holy of Holies.
Women were there to uphold this order for safety and esteem.
Mother, why have you been lost to me for so long? Why did they hide you?
The wind picked up my question and carried it to the top of the trees, where it tickled leaves and made them shake with laughter.
“Let me tell you something, Toula. The man is the head, but the woman is the neck. And she can turn the head any way she wants.”-Maria Portokalos, My Big Fat Greek Wedding
When Dave asked my dad for my hand in marriage, my mother and I huddled together and listened in another room. If you asked me about it today, I’d wonder at this bizarre tradition. Why did he not need to ask my mother? But I didn’t have the language then…just the propensity to will my way despite the rifts it caused in the people around me. While I don’t claim this trait was always used in the best way, it was the North Star that guided me. On this particular occasion of formal nonsense, my father spent an hour divulging that if Dave wanted me, he’d have his hands full. But he had his blessing.
Dave didn’t fully comprehend what that meant, and neither did I.
Together we rode the waves that came, and as I voiced opinions, he listened. It was an alien world, the way he heard me. Sacred and messy, we keep walking the earth hand-in-hand.
What is it about partnering that is maddening and exhilarating? Where do we start and end? Fusion is heat and madness and facing the darkest parts of your soul. When you emerge from the ashes together, it’s a feeling unlike any other.
Sophia, Greek god of Wisdom, is a confusing figure in Christendom. Her origin is a mystery, as is her disappearance. I know Divine Feminine is real. I’ve found Her in the white aspens and rushing water of Spring. Giving Her a name seems to lessen who she is. Maybe her mystery is her power.
“Do not hate my obedience
And do not love my self-control.
In my weakness, do not forsake me,
And do not be afraid of my power.
For why do you despise my fear
And curse my pride?
But I am she who exists in all fears
And strength in trembling.
I am she who is weak,
And I am well in a pleasant place.
I am senseless and I am wise.”-The Thunder, Perfect Mind
Why did it take so long to find you? Would every woman be better if they knew who you were?
In the tradition of the religion given to me, a young boy goes to a grove of trees to pray.
Everyone focuses on the events that unfolded: two male personages appear, showing an embodied God and Christ.
A revolution begins.
For a time, a black and white photograph of the grove hung in my house. Below it, it said:
C’est l’endroit qui a change le monde. Laissez-le changer votre vie.
We move past the most important part of the story: that the boy was always surrounded by trees.