As I sit on the shore of a beautiful lake in northern Michigan framed with with huge oak, maple and beech trees swaying in a hefty wind, I realize once again that one of the sweetest, and often most profound, things to me about our learning community, Scholars Together, is our setting three days and two nights each and every week in the woods. So many of our life-serving gleanings, discussions, and metaphors have come from our quiet moments and observations on the paths in the forest and along the winding and ever-flowing Huron River.
Ahhh, such important lessons we have learned together here about who we really are!
I just happened upon some notes that came from an exercise we did a few years ago, each in our own journals, about some of the truths we had pondered and taken in from our times in the woods. I hope to stumble upon the notes from the students’ journals, as well, but these were the ones from mine. They make me even more eager to start our year together amongst the whisperings of nature and feel that kinship with the forest that brings us close.
Here were my journal scribblings from that day:
- I can stand tall and firmly rooted like a tree — what others do and say doesn’t have to hurt me, change my stance, or make me sway
- I can be flexible like the trees, too, bending and curving when it feels right to do so in order to meld with others or to see new perspectives — or to go in new, wiser directions
- I constantly ebb and flow like a river…sometimes with power and other times gently
- I can be tough and strong like the path that gets walked upon each day, supporting journeying footsteps
- I can let things go like the trees let go of their leaves
- I can let my true colors show like the leaves do in the fall
- I can find hiding spots when I need them, like the rabbits do when they sense danger
- I can let my beautiful self, the pure expression of my light, shine like the gorgeous pink and purple sunrise
- I can find my own important place to stand and BE in this world like the cattails do in their crowded patch near the river
- I can let my qualities grow and branch out like the branches on a tree that spread out far and wide
- It is natural for me to reach for the Light, just like the trees do in a forest
- I can melt and be soft when it is time, like the snow melts when it is time
- I can know that it is okay to be different, just like the pine trees that keep their leaves when the other trees lose theirs
- The soft moss growing on a big strong tree is like me…vibrant, soft, humble, warm
- I have a current moving inside of me like the river does that doesn’t stop — it just shows more sometimes than in other times
- I need to be nurtured, to have light and space to grow, just like the trees
- In order for things to grow they need the decomposed materials to create the soil and make it rich…just like I need my past mis-takes and experiences to help me grow and bloom
- Sometimes there needs to be boundaries in our lives, like the fence, the river bank, the bark on a tree, the edge of the path
- When I see the water in the river so gracefully and matter-of-factly glide around the large rocks and logs stationed in its path, it reminds me that I can go around, up, and over many of the obstacles that come my way, too
- I can know that the sun is always there, even during the times I can’t see it…that there is a Power that guides me and sustains me every day, even when I can’t see it clearly
- The light WILL come every day. I can know this on the days that seem dark… and that I welcome those experiences that turn me towards the light, to search for it
…..oh, there are SO many more that can be added to this list! This is just a spattering — won’t you share YOUR nature lessons with us?
Tien Stone Langlois, Scholars Together Learning Community
photos by B. Jay Langlois