I took my dog for a walk today in the St. Francis Woods, a beautiful piece of wooded land on the grounds of a convent. We go there a few times a week if the weather is good and today it was especially beautiful. We just had a lovely downpour and the woods were abundant in fragrance. I inhaled several times and just the scent alone made me feel joyful to have such a gift of nature so close to my home. The greens were lush and the sun was setting through the trees. I couldn’t resist snapping a photo with my iPhone. It captured perfectly the essence of the beauty I was experiencing at that moment.
While walking, I was listening to some of my favorite Beatles songs. This one was especially fitting for this happy place.
I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. Henry David Thoreau
About a year and a half ago I attended a retreat held on the grounds of a Franciscan convent very close to my house. I always knew it was there, but I had never taken the time to explore it, nor did I feel I was allowed there. It was simply a place I had driven past hundreds of times in the 12 years since I moved here.
The building we used for the retreat is nestled on a lovely expanse of woods that are part of the campus of the Franciscan Sisters of the Sacred Heart. While there, I learned the Sisters don’t mind sharing their woods because after I asked permission, the Sister graciously told me it would be fine for me to bring my dog there for daily walks. I knew right away this was something very special and I felt so blessed to have the opportunity to enjoy this whenever I wanted. When you are there walking along the paths, if you listen close enough, you can almost hear God whispering to you as you stroll through the trees and listen to the birds chirp while the squirrels rustle by up the trees.
This amazing place, affectionately known to my dog as ”da woods!” is my happy place. It’s where I love to go with my dog and watch him run untethered through the trees at top speed with unadulterated joy like only a dog can do. He listens so well, comes when called and only goes so far before he turns around to check where I’m at. Then he runs back to tag me with his paws and run off again. I feel a sense of peace in these woods. I feel like God is right there with me-with us. It is a place I wouldn’t dream of wearing an Ipod while walking…that would almost be sacriligious to drown out the sounds of nature (and God) to listen to music.
This is truly one of my most favorite places to be and I’m so lucky that it’s only 4 minutes from my house. I am very blessed, but I think Xander would say he was the ‘blessest.’