Spirit Garden Reflections

Forest Walk

Around me the trees stir in their leaves
and call out, “Stay awhile.”

-Mary Oliver, When I Am Among the Trees

Welcome to the Reflection for November!

Across the ages, nature has been a spiritual companion for so many of us.  We gain insights and revelations from being in nature and it can be our greatest teacher.  In the Celtic tradition, the earth is spoken of as the original monastery. 

We see this sense of retreating into nature as an integral part of many of the wisdom traditions.

Jesus spent time in the wilderness as he was awakening to his ministry.  Muhammad spent time in a cave.  Buddha became enlightened while sitting under a tree.

Nature teaches us how to become present.  It holds us as we settle into ourselves and develop the ability to simply BE.  It is from this ‘beingness’ that a wider perspective can become available to us.  This ability to BE cultivates a deeper awareness and gives us the capacity for insights and growth.

The mystic, Hildegard de Bingen implored humanity to stand like a tree.  This is an invitation to root down, while also rising up and reaching out.  With her invitation to stand like a tree, she says, “humanity, take a good look at yourself.  Inside you’ve got heaven and earth, and all of creation.  You’re a world – everything is hidden in you.”  Her words are an invitation to come into the kind of presence that a tree holds.  It is an invitation to settle ourselves and come into relationship with the wisdom that lives beneath the surface of our busy minds.

This month, as we experience another intense wave of Covid-19, we need the practices that help us root down and BE more than ever.  We need the ancient wisdom of the natural world to hold us and guide us.  It is in this place that we can be nurtured and that we might gain awareness of what we most need in order to carry on.

In our Spirit Garden Reflection for this month, I’d like to take you on a journey into the forest and into relationship with nature.  Specifically, into relationship with the silver birch, which is known as the Lady of the Forest in Celtic lore. 

Forest blessings,

Look deep into nature,
then you will understand everything better.

-Albert Einstein

Forest Walk

The audio file below offers a short reflection about a Forest Walk.  The audio is followed by a handout with some questions that are intended to help you journal your own thoughts and experiences around this theme.

Please print these out before you listen to the audio file. You are invited to pour yourself a cup of tea or coffee and take about 20 minutes to listen to the reflection and then answer the questions.  Having the scent of the forest with you while you listen will bring in the sensory experience of being in the forest.  You may wish to light a forest scented candle, or diffuse cedarwood or spruce essential oil as you listen.

May this be a nourishing and replenishing time of some soul tending.

Reflection Questions

Please click on the button below to download the reflection questions to go along with the reflection on a Forest Walk.

The future is not out there in front of us,
but inside of us.

-Joanna Macy

silver birch tree

To Close Your Reflection

Take a moment to meditate upon the image of this Silver Birch tree and Joanna Macy’s words. Notice what they evoke in you.

May we each know that as we take part in these cycles of growing, expanding and letting go, that we are participating in co-creating our future.


Spirit Garden Moments

Spirit Garden Moments offer a short pause in your day and an opportunity for reflection.  November is the month that we honour those who have fought for our freedom.  Below is a Spirit Garden Moment on Practicing Peace.  May we continue to carry forward this legacy of peace that has been entrusted to us.  

Practicing Peace

heart shaped stone in sand

“Ultimately, we have just one moral duty:  to reclaim large areas of peace in ourselves, more and more peace, and to reflect it towards others.  And the more peace there is in us, the more peace there will also be in our troubled world.”

-Etty Hillesum

This quote from Etty Hillesum is one of my all-time favourites, it kind of runs in the background of my awareness all year long.  But as Remembrance Day draws near, these words get louder and come more and more to the foreground of my mind.  I believe these words become more prominent at this time because I become so aware that the peace and freedom that I enjoy, and even take for granted, was hard-won by so many who gave their lives to defend it.

Those who fought for our freedom were putting love into action each and every day as they sacrificed so much in order to claim peace for us.

And so I come back to Etty Hillesum’s words and they help me recognize that I have a responsibility to carry on this legacy of peace-making.

I have come to know that the more we end the wars and conflicts that occur within ourselves, the more we are at peace.

Today, I wanted to share a short practice that I often do when I feel turmoil within myself, whether it is anxiousness about work, angst about a disagreement with someone, or the inner wrestling that happens over feeling jealous or not good enough.  Whatever has stirred the waters of discontent within me, I find it helpful to take a few moments to meditate with the mantra:

I surrender to love.

Meditating with this mantra will draw my awareness from my mind, into my heart and it brings a feeling of calm and peace within me.  From this place of heart-centeredness, I can connect with actions and ways of being that reflect this peace into the situation I have been grappling with.

This short practice has become one way of reclaiming peace within myself so that I can carry it with me into my interactions with others.

I offer it to you today in the hopes that you might find it helpful as well.

As we collectively remember and honour those who have fought for peace in the past and those who continue to fight for peace today, may we each find the ways in which we can reclaim the peace within ourselves so we might share it with the world around us.

Peace-filled blessings,

“Make me a channel of your peace.”

-Saint Francis

In Closing

The season of fall is coming to an end.  It is a season of shedding and letting go of what is no longer needed.  It is a time of creating space for a period of rest and receptivity.  As we continue to be called to shelter in place due to rising Covid-19 cases, may we find companionship and strength from the trees around us.  May we feel the future growing within us and may we each continue nurturing the layers of new growth within so we might contribute our gifts to our hurting world.

As the month of November draws to a close, may we carry the torch of peace within us.  May we feel it’s flame strengthening us as we navigate our way through the upheaval of this pandemic.

With love and blessings,

Kathy by the Ocean

Connect & Share

Please share any comments about this Reflection in the comments below. Make sure to check out what others are posting and encourage each other!