The carvings in a tree. The etching in rocks. Signs that someone was there. Someone who felt the need to leave a mark, to give a lasting impression, on a natural being. I lower my eyes, apologetically, for being part of a race that disrespects what nature offers.
When I enter the woods, oceans, mountains, I enter with silence. I want to hear and feel what the trees, wind, water, have to share with me. I am grateful for every step in wilderness I am allowed to take.
As a young person, I found refuge at the ocean. Sand between my toes, salt in my hair, was a welcome sign that I was were I needed to be. More recently, I am surrounded by mountains. The ridgelines, vistas, ravines, help me escape and remember the sacredness of life. I have been hiking in the mountains of Western North Carolina for eight years now. A few months ago, with snow still on the ground, I felt the mountains finally allow me to hear them. I lower my eyes, acknowledging that nature leaves no physical marks on me yet has the most profound impression.