Whose woods these are I think I know . . . for, they are mine.
I stand at the edge of a wood. And what do I see. What do I feel?
Woods have a long history in folklore and storytelling.
They can be places where beautiful, life-giving springs are found. Places where the Merry Men ate and drank, danced and reveled.
Woods are also thought to be enchanted. They are places of mystery. Places where the unknown and unseen things dwell. They can be deep and dark. Dangers lurking just beyond the tree line. Places where spirits haunt and wild beasts stalk.
I stand at the edge of a wood.
Which sort of wood is it? Is it filled with singing thieves, merry dwarves, and soft beds of moss. Or is it filled with spirits, enchantments, goblins, and the deep dark?
The woods may fill us with wonder and a sense of beauty, or they may frighten us.
Even more important, what is our purpose for entering their realm? Why do we seek to travel through the wood?
It was for very different reasons that two separate men entered the wood. The one, known better by his terrorist moniker, Ted Kaczynski, went to the wood to prepare his tools of destruction and death. His cabin was one for the purpose of evil and hatred. His wood was dark and frightening.
The other man, H. D. Thoureau, went to the wood to prepare himself for life and meaning. He fashioned tools meant for living and wisdom.
In his autobiographical sketch, Walden, he states,
“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. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practice resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms.”
From time to time, we must enter that wood, our wood. On occasion, the wood is inviting, charming, mystical, and a refuge; a hiding place from the demands of life. Other times, it is menacing, wild, and foreboding; a test of our faith and moxy.
Either way, the wood is there and we must pass through its shade. We must walk its leaf strewn paths and take in its bounty and its majesty. We must allow nature to speak and we must meditate on the meaning.
Where is your wood? What does it hold in store for you?
1 Sam. 23.16, And Jonathan Saul’s son arose, and went to David into the wood, and strengthened his hand in God.