I could not be a poet without the natural world. Someone else could. But not me. For me the door to the woods is the door to the temple. – Mary Oliver, “Upstream”
I am here another week in the Green Mountains. I came to restore my body. I have stayed to restore my spirit. In the valley surrounded by the mountains, I feel safe and secure. I can explore here. I can look up in wonder and find birds and butterflies, pink clouds at sunset, and fields of wildflowers in the morning light.
Vermont gives space for thinking and dreaming. I am not confined here. There is nothing needing my attention. I can truly breathe deeply and feel my body finally relax. And as my body relaxes, my mind sets off wandering. My pain has lessened some, and I can concentrate on reading and writing.
In addition to mountains, rivers, streams, and stones, Vermont has a wide variety of independent bookstores. Many of the Indy bookstores in my home state of New Jersey have gone out of business but in Vermont small bookstores thrive. This week, I walked into Bear Pond Books and found three treasures: The Summer of June by Jamie Sumner, Upstream by Mary Oliver, and The House Without Windows by Barbara Newhall Follett. The Summer of June is an uplifting middle-grade novel about a girl with an anxiety disorder. When I learned that poetry, petite fours, and gardening were the keys to her cure, I knew that I had to get busy reading.
Mary Oliver is one of my favorite poets. I did not know that she wrote essays and was ecstatic when I found Upstream. I am reading, rereading, and underlining with abandon. Every word, every idea is precious. As I read Oliver, I wish I was younger. I have so much to learn from her. Her thoughts are so much akin to mine. I read, and I am gleeful. I have found a friend.
The House Without Windows will be my last book in this Bear Pond Books trilogy. I found it in the children’s section. When I read the front cover blurb: “A lost classic, a free-spirit adventure, a long song to the wilderness,” I thought it would make a perfect companion to Oliver’s essays. I can’t wait to see if I’m correct. It was written by a twelve-year-old girl, Barbara Newhall Follett, who was born in 1914. She wrote another book, The Voyage of the Norman D., when she was thirteen. In 1939, at the age of twenty-five, Barbara disappeared from her home one evening. She was never seen or heard from again. Her disappearance remains a mystery. I cannot wait to read her first book, which is about a young girl who seeks adventure in the wild. This book jumped out at me from the shelf, and I know there is a good reason. I know I will find treasure and meaning in it.
And what better place to read about nature than in Vermont. Looking up and seeing the solemn silhouette of dark mountains, I cannot help but think of things divine. In these painful weeks, I have reminded myself of the power of faith. I am grateful to be able to spend time in this beautiful place. I have faith that I am being set on the right course. I am certain in the middle of my sixth decade that I have more to learn. And I am ready.
8 thoughts on “Of Nature, Books, & Faith”
Did you notice the bits of glass
Worn by wind and weather?
Did you see the dandelions
The mossy patch, the heather?
Did you hear the rushing wind
Watch the way the leaves turned over?
Did you find the twisted vine
Out by the patch of clover?
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#2 Checked out the books that you recommended and they look amazing! Thanks for always providing amazing resources including names of inspiring poets and creators. Your pathway to healing and connecting with the world is inspiring and I feel grateful to read about your experiences. Sending healing energy your way 🙂
No doubt – we are cousins! Thank you for this and for your friendship. You mean the world to me!
I am glad for you. Thank you for sharing.
Vermont is my happy place although I have only been there twice. I will be putting those books on my list. I too am in my 6th decade and still have a lot to learn. Thank you for sharing!
Oh, how beautiful! I think we are similar in our desire to get away and refuel our spirits. I love the last line — what are we without heaven? I’m sorry that you have had a painful time recently, and I hope that things are getting better, whatever the pain. Your friend in Mary Oliver is mine, too – she’s my favorite poet, and Devotions is my favorite collection. I would love to be there, too, enjoying small bookshops and the beauty of Vermont. Cheers for your journey, my friend.
This is such a soothing slice. You made me relax as you moved from thought to thought. Images popped and your words were the salve I needed at the end of a long day. I am hosting Spiritual Journey Thursday with the theme, “Nurturing Your Summer Soul” at my blog, Beyond LiteracyLink. I feel your words would be healing. If you would like to join, please do so. I created a graphic and will send it to you if your interested in writing with us this month. Let me know.
And this is amazing … I am taking it as a word to me (if you don’t mind) and holding it as a treasure or a treasure map, with tears in my eyes.
“I have faith that I am being set on the right course. I am certain in the middle of my sixth decade that I have more to learn. And I am ready.”
Wonderful, as always.