We have been home for a week now and have enjoyed two long bike rides over to the lake (no hills - yahoo) and have taken many walks around city streets, through the trails at the wetlands, and along the paths in the woods at our local park.
These city walks are much tamer than our Riverwood rambles were for sure, and take some getting used to. At the farm it is was so wonderful to be able to step outside the kitchen door and have 117 acres of forest right at our feet – so to speak. We didn’t have to drive anywhere to go for a nice walk. Here in the city, that is exactly what we have to do if we want to tread upon anything other than a concrete slab. Concrete paths do make for worry-free walking though, and there is something to be said for that, and street signs too. They help us find our way out and back again, and it is the safely back again part that I value most. I don’t have an innate sense of direction so I get quite panicky when I don’t have a clear path or signpost to show me the way home. In this confusing, old world, we just need to know how to find our way home again don’t we? Home to, peace, contentment, security, love, acceptance - all the things that make us feel welcome and safe.
The first walk I took after we got back to the city was a brisk jaunt around our neighbourhood. It seemed so strange to stroll all the well-lit streets, lined with cookie cutter houses which had a car or two in every driveway, high fences around postage stamp backyards and well groomed flower beds, still in full bloom, at each front door. After the rugged, freshly cut trails at Riverwood I felt really out of place on these city streets. The new trails at the farm went through such thick dense areas of the forest that we had to follow coloured markers tied to trees to find our way along some parts of the path. A bit unnerving at times, but mostly just plain fun. No such coloured ribbons were needed here in this familiar urban sub-division.
As I clipped along the plain city sidewalks that night I remembered one of the last adventures we went on at Riverwood. After lunch one day, we put fresh batteries in the GPS, and set off to explore the west boundary line of the farm. We had never walked this path before and no else had walked it to mark it for us either. We were told that it had once been fenced, and if we looked carefully we would see the fence posts and be able to follow them along the property line. Oh sure! Broken fence posts rotting and hidden in heavy bush did not stand out — at all! Some were upright but most were lying on the ground with scraps of barbed wire sticking out here and there, to show us where the property line had once been many years ago. Many, many years ago.
At the start of our trek, we stood on the road in front of the dense bush at the south end of the property and knew that if we walked directly north we would come out to a clearly marked road on the other side of the property.
We got our bearings, found the first fence post and bravely ventured deeper into the bush to locate the next post. I tried to spot unique trees or other markers along the way to help me keep north directly in front of me. It was overcast, so I got no help whatsoever from the sun. We were only about 5 minutes into the bush when John asked me to point north. I confidently did so and was shocked to learn that I was pointing west!!!! He said he thought we were going north too, but when he checked the GPS was surprised to see how far off he was and wanted to see if I was just as turned around. I was, and after only 5 minutes too. Sheesh! After that, John kept the GPS in his hand, not his pocket, and we followed it closely.
We corrected our direction even though it felt like we were going the wrong way and, sure enough, came across another old fence post almost totally hidden in the thick undergrowth on the ground. Goodness! Who would have thought that we would have had so much trouble finding our way without the GPS. Nature is grand and glorious but also frightening and overwhelming and should never be taken for granted. Don’t set out on any journey —in the woods or in life — without a map or compass.
About an hour after we plunged into the bush, we made it safely out onto the road on the other side of the property and had actually managed to find crumbling fence posts all along the way, but it would have been almost impossible without the GPS. Marvellous little invention that!
The newly cut but dense walking paths within the property lines at Riverwood were a bit easier to follow but not much in some places. They were marked with coloured ribbon tied to trees along the way. I didn’t need the GPS on those trails, but I did need to keep looking for those bright pink ribbon markers. As we walked along, I would search for the trail marker and then, once I saw it, relax and walk directly towards it. And when I say directly, I mean directly. Over logs, through brambles, whatever. Just keep the ribbon in sight and walk through or over whatever is in your path. What a relief to know that someone had walked this trail before me and knew the way out. That helped me to relax and enjoy the walk more. I would feel the tension start to build again though, as I approached one marker but couldn’t see the next one. I had to walk right up to the one I could see and then stand still and look around in all directions to find the next one. Some were bigger than others, some we at eye level, some lower, some higher. Not always easy to find, but there, if I really searched for them.
Markers on the trees at Riverwood, GPS readings on new trails, and street signs here in the city all help me find my way along confusing pathways.
Sometimes I wish I had some bright pink-coloured markers to show me the way along this path through life too. Don’t you? It would really help if we could have some marker that would say: "Yes, turn here. No, don’t go there. Move now. Stop here. Go through the brambles. Yes, through the brambles not around them. Break a few branches if you must, but walk toward the coloured marker and don’t lose sight of it until you line up the next one and then walk towards it undaunted. Take this path to that new job. Say this to your grown daughter. Don’t say that. Vote this way. This is the house or apartment for you." And so on.
We don’t have pink ribbons tied to the trees or magic GPS readings to guide us, but we do have that still small inner voice that will not direct us wrong. We must stand still and be quiet long enough to hear it though. It cannot be heard over the busyness of the doing.
If you feel lost or confused right now and need some direction. Stop what you are doing. Stand still and be quiet for a while. Look around you and listen to that still small inner voice. It might only be a whisper, but, if you are still enough, you will hear it clear as a bell, and it will guide you to your heart’s home. Shhhhh. Be still! Be still! Do you hear that pink ribbon whisper?