He approached the woods slowly, cautiously, but with a gracefulness seldom seen in a man. He stood on the edge silently challenging himself to enter. It was a woods unlike he had ever seen before. Not wildly full of underbrush that catches and tangles your feet, but one surprisingly calm, soothing and compellingly urging him to partake of its beauty.
He stretched out one foot and gently pressed it down upon leaves softened with time; then another step. There was only the faintest rustle as his delicate leather boots found their way further and further into the woods step by step.
He was surprised at the warmth of this woods. It had been piercingly cold on his difficult journey to arrive here, but now he was surrounded by something quite different, as if every tree, every branch, every bit of greenery was holding him in an unseen warm embrace. He began to relax.
Sparrow songs drew his eyes to the tree tops where proud and elegant branches swayed ever so slightly in the breeze. Little bits of brilliant blue sky could just be seen between giant leaves that glowed green as the sun blazed through them and poured lusciously into dappled patterns all over the forest floor below. He walked deeper and deeper.
Up ahead was a small clearing thickly carpeted with the brown supple leaves and encircled with tall dark columns of trees holding their limbs up high outstretched like gracious arms lovingly protecting all below. And beyond, he was surprised to see the ocean’s glimmer and hear the sound of ocean waves.
Finding a patch of warm sunshine in the clearing, he spread out his cloak and sat, “For just a moment,” he’d told himself, against a fallen tree. Tilting his head slowly back and raising his face to the sun, he closed his eyes and allowed himself to feel the subtleties around him; the musty smell of the leaves underfoot as they lost themselves into the soil, the sweetness of the green foliage that filled his every breath becoming nourishment for his soul, a deep calm as if the very earth was pulling away his past transgressions and the abundant heat of the sunshine on his skin as if a thousand kisses were welcoming him home.
With his face lifted thus and his eyes closed, he breathed in, he breathed in again and once again and then, he was lost…