Walking Through the Woods: Facing My Fears

Every hike begins with a question for the Master of the Universe. And then, a plea.

“Lord, what do you want to say to me on this hike today?” And then: “Lord, please hold my hand and walk with me.”

Whenever I walk in the woods, I remember where and when I first fell in love with nature, a place that has somehow always gifted me with clarity, serenity and understanding.

I grew up on a farm in Shinnston, WV, a former coal town. Our three-bedroom farmhouse sat between two steep hillsides. A narrow winding road, heavily traveled by rumbling coal trucks, divided the hillsides and a sulfur-scented creek called Shinns Run carved a shimmering swath through our property.

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Walking Through the Woods: Recentering Is Good for the Soul

Maybe it’s the long and winding trails toward destinations yet unexplored that fuel restoration. Or maybe it’s the rustling of cracked and drying leaves yet undetached on towering trees that dispenses peace into my pores like a weighted blanket. Or it could be the occasional hoarse screech of a hawk overhead or the skittering of a squirrel on the forest floor as he gathers wintertime’s stash.

Walking toward restoration.

Maybe, just maybe, it’s simply the silence that speaks the loudest to my inner spirit and brings refreshment. Walking through the woods is good medicine. For me, it’s a way to find my center when life blows me off course. A job loss, death of a loved one, the end of a relationship. Those things that rip the fabric of your life and leave you feeling tattered, fragmented and incomplete.

Today, I hit the reset button and began a journey to find my center once again. A journey that takes the loose ends of the shredded fabric and re-weaves it into something beautiful. If you dare, a close inspection hints of the evidence of loss, disappointment and pain in the re-stitching of mended holes and unraveled pieces. And yet those places—once gaping or threadbare—feel stronger, more resilient and rejuvenated once repaired. It becomes an imperfect tapestry that tells a story of fortitude, transformation and renewed strength.

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