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The Woods and Gratitude

 Reading about nature is fine, but if a person walks in the woods and listens carefully, he can learn more than what is in books, for they speak with the voice of God.”  –George Washington Carver

This morning, Xander and I went for what’s becoming our regular morning walk at the St. Francis Woods.  Today was particularily gentle weather-wise, and we took advantage of it.  Tomorrow calls for snow flurries and colder temps.  Walking with my sweet dog and sipping on a hot cup of Dunkin’ Donuts coffee is a great way to start my day.  I was grateful for the chance to take him once again and witness his joy as he ran and chased squirrels and explored.  We even met a few ladies there who couldn’t resist patting him and talking to him.

This morning at the woods.

Little chapel at the woods.
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My 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
A charming storybook stone building

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 is the 'tundra' as I call it...the more rustic path that goes past the brook.

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. 

I love the weathered statuary peppered throughout the grounds.

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.’

Xander somehow knows St. Francis loves him.