I live across from a magnificent old-growth forest in Port Moody, BC. This forest calls me to her, like she knows exactly what I need and exactly when I need it. My mind and soul have been soothed under falling branches of cedar and over leaf scattered trails. I have come to trust her invitation like that of my beloved grandmother offering a loving embrace.
Walking the path beside the heavily travelled Murray Street that parallels my home, cars rush by on one side of me and the deep, wild forest’s gaping lungs pulse on the other side. It truly is two different worlds separated by a walking path. Look one way and see a world of man-made towers and construction rubble, look the other way and there’s patience and creation underway.
Entering the trails recently I was struck by some colourful painted rocks. Adorned with rainbows, hearts and words like ‘love’, ‘gratitude’ and ‘peace’ written on them, they were seemingly placed there by a kindred soul. These beautiful fragments of the human world felt like an offering of peace to Mother Earth.
Within seconds of walking the forested path the human world diminished. I could no longer hear the swish of cars or clatter of trains. Walking through tunnels formed of sweeping cedar and pine branches, thin shafts of daylight seeped through. Thousands of grand trees surround this trail, most are over one hundred years old, many are over five-hundred years. They stand like sentries. The space between them dons a golden haze sparkling with fairy light and a quiet bustle of creature activity.
Fallen trees crumble to the earth and melt into the soil giving struggling seedlings every ounce of life they have within their nutrient rich, age old wisdom. Their deep-rust colouring is alive with gratitude and a sense of community. Thick, velvety-soft moss blankets the forest floor giving cover to the grubs and worms that serve in abundance to the scavenging crows. Rows upon rows of shelf fungus ladder up into the coniferous branches. ‘Fairy puke’ speckles peeling bark shingling the tree-trunks. These colourful tiny spots of tangerine lichen are rare. Finding them feels like discovering a magical treasure.
On the other side of the forest there is the marshland inlet off Indian Arm. When the tide is out the dense, black mud-flats reveal long vein-like waterways. Perched upon one leg, in yoga tree-pose, herons stand over these narrow running streams—still. They stand patiently awaiting a flinch of movement to induce their keen hunting skills, then with one swift reach, a small fish wriggles helplessly in their bill.
I walk these forest lined shores daily because I must. The more disconnected I feel from myself and others, the louder this call from nature becomes. Once in her presence, immediate reminders of gratitude, community, patience and selflessness are so prevalent that immersing myself in this habitat helps me understand the circle of life on a greater, more meaningful and Universal scale.
I believe we as humans are one with the natural world and thus I believe we can find our purpose by watching and listening to the wisdom of the forest. Giving what we can and taking only what we need, being present and patient, and knowing that if we have faith and remember there is always something to be grateful for, we can achieve a blissful joy for living in peace and abundance.