Irene finds gratitude during her walks in the woods

A Walk in the Woods

This week I participated in a Mindful Outdoor Experience, led by a Kripalu-certified guide. Our group walked silently in nature, noting what we saw, heard, smelled. We used our feeling sense to examine objects we collected. We even tasted the forest—the white pine tea our guide had prepared in advance. At one point, we were invited to sit in the forest for ten minutes and look around, observing the movement around us. When we discussed our experience, one in the group was saddened that the beautiful red and orange leaves were falling from their trees, to their deaths. She noted that, even so, the descent was a beautiful, swirling dance. Later, someone in the group pointed out that the leaves on the forest floor would provide nutrients back to the trees so they could continue growing and produce more leaves again next year.

I was struck with the cycle of life, especially in the forest, where the change is visible throughout the year here in the Northeast. It is much like the cycle of our lives, too. There is decline, decay, ending. There is also rebirth, renewal, and revitalization. I suppose it would be hard to appreciate one without the other. We can only influence or provide support to someone (or something) where that is in our control. For all the rest, in the natural cycle of the universe, all we can do is appreciate the gift that is our world.

I was also reminded of something I wrote in Chapter 3 of Shattered Stars, Healing Hearts:

Like the layers of earth that accumulate from generation to generation, the layers of a family’s story, constantly impacted by the effects of erosion and destruction, build, break down, and build up again. Eventually all the layers intermingle. Some cannot exist without the foundation of those that came before or even those that might come after.

Irene Stern Frielich regularly speaks about her father’s Holocaust survival experience and how she unraveled his story. She is a periodic blogger covering topics such as Holocaust and WWII history, current events, memory, and hope. She is also the owner of an award-winning instructional design consulting firm in Sharon, Massachusetts. Irene is deeply grateful to the eighteen courageous individuals who helped her family survive the Holocaust. She carries their legacy forward through her book and through her acclaimed multimedia presentations.

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