Slowing Down is Nature’s Gift

My knees threatened to give out before I was halfway down. It was just the beginning of my 6-mile hike, descending several flights of uneven wooden-planked steps. There was no railing, but a couple of landings provided benches for those who needed them. A man on the way up told me it was the only bad part of the hike. He was proven quite right on my way back.

Determined not to sit on the way down the hill, I stood in place to catch my breath. I heard some leaves crunch to my right. Squirrels. I heard it again and something coaxed me to quiet my breath and stare into the woods. I heard it again, but farther away, and again near, and then again down the hill. Our eyes met.

They were low to the ground and attached to a reddish face, a fox I thought. Then it raised up to look at me and two leaf-shaped ears sat on either side of its delicate head.

“Well, hello, Sweetheart!” I said. It went back to foraging, while a deeper hidden form walked through unalarmed by my presence. Further down the hill, a doe twitched her ears and tiptoed gently across the path. Another followed, hesitant at first, but then resigned. The last to cross was the fawn whose eyes had locked with mine. Worriedly, it divided its attention between me and the does until at last it skittered across the trail and disappeared once again into the shadows.

I knew at once I had received a gift and thanked them graciously. I wondered how many times my younger self had strode confidently down a length of stairs without stopping to catch my breath. I thought how easily she could have pitied me. And how easily I could envy her youth and strength . . . had I not been given a gift that could only have been received by someone who slowed down long enough to receive it.

Peace . . .

Author:

Trying to make sense of it all and . . . for the most part . . . doing it.

2 thoughts on “Slowing Down is Nature’s Gift

  1. I love this post. I don’t hike. Never have. But I walk most early mornings and in seven years of walking this neighborhood; the morning I read this and applied it, I saw a deer in our woods. I was thinking about on my walk:
    “When we walk like (we are rushing), we print anxiety and sorrow on the earth. We have to walk in a way that we only print peace and serenity on the earth… Be aware of the contact between your feet and the earth. Walk as if you are kissing the earth with your feet.”
    ― Thich Nhat Hanh
    You were so fortunate to have to go slow enough to see it. And again I think, What’s the rush? Perfect example.

    1. Thinking about this — I think it’s very apparent that the earth is reacting to the anxiety and sorrow (and greed, selfishness) humans have printed on the earth. There’s a lot to meditate on here.

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