Beauty of The Woods

Beauty is a key piece to who I am and what makes me tick. It fills my well.

Beautiful words, beautiful photos, simple bits of beauty in my home and my day. These all speak to me.

But the beauty in nature fills my well especially. Often to overflow.

I didn't know the full extent of that truth before living here.

In Maine we lived in a smallish (by most standards, large by Maine standards) urban city, on a street named Sylvan Avenue.

In that home, on that street I cultivated beauty by growing flowers and creating an urban oasis. Gardening is a one of my creative outlets and it gave something to do outside with my children as they played. It helped to fill my beauty well.

I love flowers and I loved that little yard.

But my heart would really soar during our weekly hikes in the woods. And when I felt most scattered and in need of refreshing during the week I would drop the to-do list, tell the kids to gear up because we were "going for a walk in the woods" at one of the local parks.

Last winter we found out the meaning of the word Sylvan, the name of street on which we lived.

  1. Relating to or characteristic of woods or forest regions.
  2. Located in or inhabiting a wood or forest.
  3. Abounding in trees; wooded.

n. One that lives in or frequents the woods.

I love the woods. I meet God in the woods. I pray in the woods. I think in the woods. I dream in the woods. I worship in the woods. I play in the woods. I find clarity in the woods.

I understand what Thoreau is saying when he writes,

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.

Now that we've moved, I live in the woods. And I love it. I'm not sure where we will live after our time in the chalet, but I'm praying it will be close to here. And close to the woods.

The beauty of the woods around our house speaks to me every day. This beauty fills my well.

I don't want to make sweeping generalizations for other people but I believe we are wired for beauty.

Beauty looks different for each of us, but if you look at the created world we live in (not the world we've messed up with our waste, greed and selfishness) I think we get a hint beauty's importance to our spirit. The natural world, our bodies included, is beautiful.

There is truth in that telling. The story nature writes - that beauty matters.

I agree with theologian N.T. Wright, the delight of beauty is "an echo of a voice".

I know that my quest for beauty, the insatiable ache it leaves in my bones, is not my heart's true longing. I know my spirit seeks the One behind the echo of a voice. My heart does not worship the woods, but the Creator of the woods.

Quoting C.S. Lewis (as quoted by Ann in her book One Thousand Gifts):

We do not want merely to see beauty, though, God knows, even that is bounty enough. We want something else which can hardly be put into words - to be united with the beauty we see, to pass into it, to receive it into ourselves, to bathe in it, to become part of it.

(emphasis mine)

Ann herself, speaks a truth I know, that "Beauty is the voice endlessly calling and so we see, so we reach".

So here I am. Seeing. Reaching. Longing to be united with the beauty I see.

It fills me, this beauty. And leaves me wanting all at the same time.

Living in this, beauty of the woods.

Renee Tougas participates in affiliate marketing, including the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. Whenever you buy something on Amazon from a link you clicked here, I get a (very) small percentage of that sale. See disclosure for further explanation.

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  • Becky @ Sowing Little Seeds

    Becky @ Sowing Little Seeds on Jan. 10, 2012, 2:21 a.m.

    You summed up so many feelings I have but am not so skilled at putting into words. I took my kids to the woods on Saturday (thankyou for all of your wonderful articles about getting outdoors as a family. Your blogs are truely my motivation for my intention of having outdoors adventures as a family this year.) and it was.......beautiful! I felt a different kind of peace and love there than I do just taking them to the playground. The quote by C.S.Lewis reminded me of one of my favorite songs this past year - Something Beautiful by NeedToBreath http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yq1H3l7kyYU&ob=av2n (in case you haven't heard it) Once again thank you for the beautiful words, they are the reason yours is the first blog I check every morning for new posts :)

    reply

  • Analicia

    Analicia on Jan. 10, 2012, 2:48 a.m.

    Water does it for me. A pond, a lake, a stream, a river, a bay, a cove, the ocean (my favourite). It grounds me and instantly brings me back to my true self. I haven't read her book, but I started (on winter solstice day) a 1,000 gifts project for myself...to cultivate my wonderful, happy, joyful, compassionate, gratitude, beauty (and many more) seeds. So far as of yesterday, I've journaled 190!
    Thank you for sharing your world with us :)

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  • shawna

    shawna on Jan. 10, 2012, 2:51 a.m.

    beautiful. i've been struggling with this lately, realizing how stagnant we became when we were laid off and went down to no spare income and one car. just how rarely i even get outside with my little ones - so much so that they have no idea what to do when we're there. they don't know how to just BE in nature, as i did as a child. i feel restless and off when i haven't been in nature enough, though i usually can't pinpoint it until i make it outside and recenter myself. my husband is anything but a nature buff, so i've made it my goal this year to reset our lives to make nature the norm, rather than the exception. i can only hope he'll see the value in it some day. i miss my new england childhood wandering in the woods, prodded on by two nature loving parents, an acre of land, and a state park just yards away. thanks for this perfect post to complement my new year.

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  • MOMTougas

    MOMTougas on Jan. 10, 2012, 3:17 a.m.

    Ahhhh....now you are finally seeing with your own eyes what Dad and I saw in the beauty in the places we chose to live until we finally had to move into the city of Edmonton where he passed away! It was so hard to leave that last place of beauty in the woods by the Clearwater River.I will never forget the birds, the flowers, the foxes, the coyotes, the moose and the deer that we saw almost every day. They were our closest neighbors!

    It was the reason we fought so hard against the sour gas well Shell wanted to drill 1 km upwind of us.We even had David Suzuki come and fight with us...and we won that battle!We are the stewards of the earth and we all have to do our part to protect it...one battle at a time...with our government...make the government realize that protecting our planet is not just about saving the bunnies or the polar bears, it's about saving all living things including the human race!

    MOM Tougas

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  • Peggy

    Peggy on Jan. 10, 2012, 3:19 a.m.

    I do not get out as often as I once did...perhaps that will change as I see the wanting of it through your eyes. I miss it so much. Thank you for your motivational and inspirational words. Ya know, personally it was from the woods I came to Christ. I remember walking and talking to him (outloud) and asking him into my heart...only one heard me that day and he hears me to this day everytime I beckon to him.

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  • Kika@embracingimperfection

    Kika@embracingimperfection on Jan. 10, 2012, 4:30 a.m.

    You are a skilled writer, Renee. I grew up nestled in the Peace River Valley with plenty of opportunity to play in the hills and for camping, skidooing, etc. I am not naturally drawn to the outdoors anymore but when I get myself out to the mountains or lake I am always, always, amazed by the incredible beauty and peace I find. And, amazed by our Creator God who birthed it all.

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  • Amiee

    Amiee on Jan. 10, 2012, 6:07 a.m.

    The first lines of this post hit home for me.

    "Beauty is a key piece to who I am and what makes me tick. It fills my well.

    Beautiful words, beautiful photos, simple bits of beauty in my home and my day. These all speak to me."

    All I can say is ditto. For me it also ties in with your post about blogging insecurities...it really does stir up feelings similar to middle school. But beauty is the key piece of who I am and it fills my well like nothing else. Beauty is also what pulls me back to blogging. I have to have a place to record and share the beauty that I see and experience.

    I long to be out side. In fact today was a sick day for me and the best medicine of the day was when I decided to take a long walk down a quiet street and soak up the sun. It was beautiful.

    Well, I will stop for now, seems like I have a good start for a blog post. Thank you for sharing bits of yourself with each of us, with me...you have given much food for thought.

    reply

  • Michelle

    Michelle on Jan. 10, 2012, 12:45 p.m.

    I know exactly what you mean. Still no snow here in Saskatchewan. It is getting frustrating for me and for Athena but she said yesterday "I don't need snow to be happy." Of course it is true but it sure makes winter a lot more fun!

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  • sara

    sara on Jan. 10, 2012, 1:48 p.m.

    Lovely writing Renee! Especially enjoyed this line- My heart does not worship the woods, but the Creator of the woods. My being was filled with indescribable peace when I finally made this connection in my own heart!

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  • Heather

    Heather on Jan. 10, 2012, 2:37 p.m.

    I am always amazed by how wild things comfort me. The woods are a book that speaks of God. When we destroy the woods we close the book. May nature always be allowed to speak!

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  • Mel

    Mel on Jan. 11, 2012, 1:17 a.m.

    I am so happy for you guys, but a little envious ;) You are living one of my dreams: living in the woods, cross-country skiing, simple living. As we stumble through a snow-free and oh so windy winter, I visualize myself in the place you are. So glad you were able to make it happen.

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  • Spalva

    Spalva on Jan. 12, 2012, 12:04 p.m.

    Mmm, you sound content. I am also someone who is deeply moved by beauty -- nature, art, music. I always have been, though I'm only now realizing that I should, perhaps, focus more on such things.

    I also used to think I was a forest person. Then I finally got my wish -- a house on the edge of a regional park forest. Only the timing was bad: I was exhausted after a very intensive round of chemotherapy and found myself isolated -- and driving a lot because I couldn't even get up the stairs of the house, much less walk to a supermarket. Also, the house was everything I didn't like and just gave off a bad vibe. So, we packed up and moved into the historical old town and, honestly, I've never been happier. The woods are always five minutes away, but we're in the heart of everything.

    Your blog is really taking off now that you've settled!

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  • Sarah

    Sarah on Dec. 9, 2012, 3:23 a.m.

    Thank you for bringing me this beauty. I feel the same way (well, I am not particularly religious... but otherwise). I feel as if the beauty I have experienced in the natural world has given me more joy and purpose in my life than any other experiences. I love this!!

    reply

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