The air is cool as it moves around us. Under foot, crimson leaves lie fallen, their work done, and far above our heads the empty branches whisper in the wind. Decades of stories are whispered back and forth above our heads, as we stand below them, looking up as they sway and talk.
On we walk, enjoying the crisp air on our cheeks, our hands warm in gloves, feet swathed in socks and boots. The path changes to gravel, then grass and back again as we meander our way through the forest. Mushrooms peak from fallen logs, fir trees stand vibrant in the morning glow, in the distance a burbling stream tumbles its way to meet the river some miles from here. There is a quiet murmur of nothing all around us as plants and insects and animals go about their day.
As we walk we chat about this and that, nothing of importance for that is not why we are here. For us this is a hallowed place, a church bigger than any other, a nurturing land with gentle qualities, that can be as harsh as it is tender, as beautiful as it is stark.
There is no place for religion here, only nature in all its glory. Even at this time of the year, with winter setting in it is quietly powerful and beautiful in more ways than I have words to describe. Stand under a large tree and let your eye travel up that gnarled and weary trunk, decades old, strong and solid. Look at the branches as they spread out to capture the sky, the twigs that twist ever higher, and even now in these early winter months there a few leaves who haven’t quite finished their work, not yet but soon.
Look up through the branches to the sky.
How small we are, how insignificant.
Walking on we turn a corner and a single mirrored sheet stretches out before us, reflecting the clouds as they scroll across the surface to the other side before disappearing into the reed beds. Some ducks emerge from the shore and send ripples across the water, rendering the sky surreal yet no less captivating.
We stand and breath in the clean air, sharp and cold on our lungs and cheeks.
We smile as Mother Nature looks over us.