Forest for the trees

July 22, 2007

Recently, I was told I could not see the forest for the trees which really doesn’t resonate with me because usually I am seeing both the forest AND the trees. So to mend my bruised self, I set out into the million or so acres of the George Washington National forest. Last October 31, I spent a lovely afternoon in a clearing somewhere up near Elkhorn Lake. I wandered for hours and never found that clearing. My husband says it is like Brigadoon :) But really, I know I was there! And a woman from my quest was with me – so she can vouch for this place being real.

Instead, we found so many interesting and beautiful hidden places as we explored the various unpaved forest roads. We spent the night in a dense thicket where the only view of the sky was directly above. I saw the forest AND the trees and they saw me too. The forest knows where I am.

A northwest Native American teaching tale about being lost in the forest is rendered beautifully by David Wagoner


Stand still. The trees ahead and bushes beside you
Are not lost. Wherever you are is called Here,
And you must treat it as a powerful stranger,
Must ask permission to know it and be known.
The forest breathes. Listen. It answers,
I have made this place around you.
If you leave it, you may come back again, saying Here.
No two trees are the same to Raven.
No two branches are the same to Wren.
If what a tree or a bush does is lost on you,
You are surely lost. Stand still. The forest knows
Where you are. You must let it find you.



  1. Just because it’s real doesn’t mean it can’t pop into alternate realities whenever it wants. I’m talking about your magical Samhain clearing in the woods. Halloween is a powerful day. Things happen then that can’t happen again until the next time that date rolls around.

    What are these people who are telling you that you can’t see the forest for the trees trying to convey? What is their point? What are they trying to communicate?

    I don’t get it.

  2. duh! I didn’t make the connection about the date until you pointed that out. I hadn’t planned to be in the woods on that day, but it just happened and then I had that wonderful clearing experience as the mountains around me stood in silent witness.

    I don’t get it either :) He did apologize later, but an apology doesn’t give me clarity for the intention.

  3. “An apology doesn’t give me clarity for the intention”

    I want that on a t-shirt!!!

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