I used to really dislike poetry. I felt like it was often pretentious and took too much to dig into what was being shared. Then I was introduced to a poem called Lost by David Wagoner. I have written about this poem before (here and here) but it showed up in my life again this week when the new podcast season of Poetry Unbound was released. The first poem shared and explored is this stunning poem that came to me at a time in life where I truly felt lost in many ways. Again, you can read about that experience in a previous post here. If you have a spare 15 minutes, take a listen to the podcast and read the poem on Poetry Unbound’s page.
As I listened to the podcast on Monday morning, I found myself speaking the poem aloud with O’Tauma’s beautiful reading but the lines that really drew me in were “The forest breathes. Listen. It answers” and then the message from the forest speaking to the reader…”I have made this place around you.” I spend a lot of time in nature but as I listened I remembered when my dad and I visited Muir Woods in Northern California several years ago. It was amazing to be surrounded by these majestic redwoods. One area in particular had this beautiful sign that welcomed visitors into Cathedral Grove, a place of silence and simply listening to the forest breathe and speak. John Muir would often write about the ways that he would hear the forest speak when he was out among trees like these. As I walked into Cathedral Grove, I simply listened and could hear the voices of the leaves rustling as a breeze blew and the gentle creaks of the trees as they swayed gently. The forest was speaking.
But here’s something that happened as I pulled out these photos from that moment. While I am a long ways away from there, that forest continues to speak. As I today took in this photo from looking up into the treetops, I saw something I had never seen before. A heart right in the middle in the upper third of the photo. A heart formed by the vanishing point of the tree trunk and the leaves and limbs around it. The forest was still speaking love and beauty.
Take some time to listen to the podcast – maybe doing so even among some trees and listen to what the forest may be saying.