Come on a journey with me, self-guided by your soul. We are entering the woods; a pristine sanctuary touched only by the feet of other travelers and animals along the path. The transformation of this land comes from seasonal shifts from dormant to vibrant, over and over again. Smell the decomposing leaves. Know each breath connects you to the trees, like a mirror image of give and take in reciprocity. Release yourself from manufactured ecosystems and connect directly with Mother Nature. She provides this place of respite where we can escape to find ourselves within. Welcome to my stillness practice on the trails outside the fence.
The sound of opening the gate and closing it behind you – that creaky sound of metal rubbing against metal and releasing the spring lock – is the beginning. I have now stepped into another dimension, like going through the wardrobe to get to Narnia. There is a magical simplicity in the experience. I am released from all that requires my attention right now. I don’t have to answer my brain’s constant, gnawing questions. Here is where I can be. As I begin to take one step in front of the other, my meditative practice is set in motion. Thoughts come; I give them a little attention and let them go. This repeatedly happens until I take a deep breath and let it out. It takes time to release the brain and engage the heart. This is the journey.
I find myself losing a sense of time in this place. Measurements disappear, and there is only life, value, texture, and space in abundance. I wonder how the Lenni Lenape connected to this land. Did they bestow a special ceremonial blessing of protection, conserving the pristine landscape? It reminds me of my calling to this community as a member and a donor. I join with the souls of the past to steward this land in a collaborative collective we now call Tyler Arboretum. We are called to protect this place so that future generations will be blessed.
I think about my greatest fear stepping beyond the gates into these trails. I did not want to be lost and alone, unable to find my way. The unknown prevented me from the journey. I took my first steps in community on a Friday morning hike with fellow travelers. I learned how to read the trail markers and follow the trail map – a way to get back to my intuition that had been lost in a world of GPS and answers. I gained knowledge of trails reflected in red, white, blue, pink, yellow, orange, and even purple blazes along the path. I developed the confidence to explore on my own and found that being alone was never lonely. Getting lost was part of the adventure, and the well-marked trails would always help me find my way back. I learned that this practice was necessary for my well-being.
As my feet move along the path, I am grateful for the one item I need for this adventure – my hiking boots. They are the most comfortable shoes I own, and putting them on now is like a ceremony. These boots have become a representation of the adventurer inside me, the one who was dormant for so long. They are now full of pride and honor, having traveled the world.
When I have walked long enough, my mind is still, and my ears are open to listening. I hear the birds, the little animals scurrying around, and the steady sound of the movement of water. I hear the Earth playing her music. When I get close enough to cross the stream, the sound of the water rushing and bubbling through the rocks reminds me that turbulence is part of the process of life. While those times seem to be the loudest, they move quickly and find a place of stillness and calm.
I encourage you to restore your soul, increase your wisdom, still your mind, energize your body, and open your heart. Go on a hike on one of the well-maintained trails at Tyler Arboretum. Find your favorite color or check out mine in blue with the occasional detour on red and white. Follow the path to Indian Rock and feel the sacredness of this place. Touch the center of the rock and know the lines are like a compass directing you North, South, East, and West. Close your eyes and hear the sound of the water. Inhale the energy of the Earth around you. Know this place connects us. Embrace peace and carry the essence of this land with you into the busy, strange life that is uniquely yours.
Would you like to get to know the Tyler Trails a bit better? Join us for one of our upcoming tours and hikes:
Richard’s Rambles, Every other Thursday, 10:00 am – noon
Pink Hill Tour – Tyler’s Serpentine Barrens, Saturday, July 16, 9:30 – 11:45 am