It’s a beautiful, magical time of year. Families gather with home-cooked meals on the table, friends and neighbors stopping by.
When you look at the world through the eyes of nature it all seems so peaceful, so right, and so “spiritual” for lack of a better word. A walk in the woods can reveal more spirituality then attending a church.
Countering Cultural Crises
And yet the human race seems to get lost in the unnatural world that we create. We are overwhelmed by a digital tsunami of two-dimensional images that neither last nor have any true importance and yet it consumes our attention, our senses and our emotions.
Do we build a wall or not? Why did that man going to a shopping mall with a gun? Who are these immoral fools that kidnapped that child? All these families that are being laid off for the holidays, what will they do? That man on the street corner, is he really homeless or is he playing the public? That husband doesn’t like his wife, that wife is cheating on her husband, those children have run away from home.
It’s endless. Maybe, instead of a big wall, we should erect a big mirror to reflect back what we have become as a culture.
Cultivating Acts of Love
And yet when you walk in the woods, when you enter the cathedral of the earth and the snow is falling and the quiet surrounds you like a hand-stitched blanket and you listen to the magical, musical nothing of the earth — it seems everything the human race deems important is all vanity, all useless, all so temporary.
What is permanent is the love that we have for each other, our families, our friends. For me, nothing translates that better than music and art, perhaps for you its something else. Maybe it’s the way a grandmother hugs the little babies visiting her nest, the way a dad hands his paycheck over to his wife, the way a mother sets the table in preparation for the meal she worked all afternoon to serve her family, maybe it’s the little drawing the toddler gives someone as a gift.
It could be the alcoholic that puts down the drink, the cigarette smoker that turns their back on tobacco, the overweight man who makes the decision to be healthy, the depressed person who becomes brave enough, humble enough to seek help. These, too, are gifts.
It’s those little things — the cost-less acts of love that are so priceless — that mean the most. It’s not the buildings that we erect as temples to our vanity, it’s the walk in the woods, the hallways of God that make our presence here on this earth meaningful.
In the end I think that’s what we are all looking for, some kind of meaning for why we are here. Nothing fills the emptiness more than the quietness of the woods in winter.
Michael Johnathon is a folk singer, songwriter, and homesteader based in Kentucky. He is the founder, producer and host of WoodSongs Old-Time Radio Hour, a radio and television program featuring Americana, folk and other American roots music. In 2007, he wrote the play Walden: The Ballad of Thoreau, which has been performed in more than 7,400 colleges, community theaters and schools in nine countries. Connect with Michael on his website and read all of his MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.
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