Field Notes: I’ve noticed just how ‘connected’ everything is. On my walk in Clackitts’s Wood yesterday morning, at about 6.15am, I noticed a tree that was so overgrown years ago that a huge branch broke off when I was a teen.
One of the smaller branches that it shed, with a bit of cutting here and there, became a five-foot hiking pole for me. I love that hiking pole. Imagine. Connected by history, of what happened thirty-three years ago? The very tree I looked at provided that for me. And, I still use that hiking pole, even though Gandalf, in those Lord Of The Rings’ movie seems to have copied me and has one, and everyone thinks I copied him. But, am I deterred from using it? No!
I’ve noticed how our words may be different, but our ideas are ‘connected’. Deep into the thick of Clackitt’s Wood, yesterday, I came across a dog, a sheep dog. Knowing that it’s owner would be nearby, I stopped and sat on a horizontal tree trunk and waited. The Wood was ‘waking up’, birds and other animals were calling to each other. The air was ‘fresh’, that is, so cold, and I could see my breath as it left my mouth. I could even see it as I breathed out of my nose – dragon’s breath (by which, I don’t mean bad breath, rather that plumes of white ‘steam’ left each nostril at an angle!). There as a minor rustle in the leaves to my left and behind me. Animals stirring. It was wonderful to be in the midst of it. To be part of it. Immersed!
Sure enough, a minute later one of the local farmer’s appear – a good friend, a ‘stout man’, that is ‘solid’ like a tree, semi-retired and with several sons doing much of the farm work for him now.
He is a man of few words. He nodded to me, and said, ‘Praying, Tadhg?’. I nodded.
He knows I sometimes like to walk in this large and ancient Wood, and pray silently, just ‘taking it all in’, and quietly giving thanks. This wood, or indeed any forest, to me, seems like a cathedral where the unknown dwells, where wild elements and ‘magic’ can happen. It’s also a great place to walk and pray, to give thanks surrounded by all these awesome, magnificent trees that seem like wise, old sentinels, and nature, in general.
‘Out for your morning constitutional?,’ I asked him.
A ‘morning constitutional’ is ‘something that one makes time for on a daily basis for the betterment of that individual’s health. The most common interpretation would be a daily walk’. Is that an old, and now often-forgotten British thing?
He nodded, said, ‘Aye,’ smiled and we parted. But, it seemed to me, that we were doing much the same thing, but just using different words and expressing it in different ways. Imagine. Connected by intentionality.
And, then an hour and a half later I was back home, prepared a hearty breakfast, when I heard a dog barking at the side door – it’s the country, and no one really uses the front door of any house. I opened the door, the dog curled up, I left the door ajar and a few seconds later my friend, the farmer appeared. ‘Breakfast?,’ I said. ‘I wouldn’t say ‘no’,’ he said, and he came in, ofcourse taking his muddy ‘wellingtons’ off and leaving them at the door.
Breakfast was awesome. Not because I cooked it – though I think I’m a good cook, but because it was great to be in the company of a wise and local farmer, a great friend and someone who loves his food as much as me, and who now, for some reason, couldn’t stop talking. I had a great time. Connected by hunger, or was it good and deep friendship, or both? But, connected!
We may use different words, express ourselves differently, but from Afghanistan to Zambia, or from Capel Curig to Llanfair PG in Wales we all laugh, cry, know hunger, and contentment, need good friends, and are the same deep down inside. We are all connected. Yesterday, I noticed just how ‘connected’ we are.