"Some of us wander around looking lost, hovering like hungry ghosts..." Minton Sparks writes in Desperate Ransom (Thomas Nelson, 2007.)
I was neither feeling lost nor looking like it as I searched for new ways to photograph ancient trees. This emerald forest has been my friend. I have been down her trails before.
It was the high hill beyond the trail that seduced me. One I had never climbed. As I made the steep ascent brush & brambles clawed, vines mimicked hangmen's nooses, disguised holes wrenched my ankles.
I peered over the summit to reap my reward: a view of Radnor Lake from far above.
It had vanished.Nothing below but more forest. And, on this day, not a soul in sight.
I retraced my steps. Or tried to.
Even on a sunny day the windows of our horror rooms can fly open & release their crows. The forest is lined with doors to danger as well as beauty. What if I fell & hit my head? How long would it be before I was discovered?
The courageous me scoffed at such worries. I trudged forward confident & strong as well as wary.
Eight walking miles & four hours later, evening stalking, my phone dead, an armed ranger appeared. His second sentence threatened a fine of $220 for leaving the marked paths. Relieved to be safe, that sounded reasonable.
"Stand still," David Wagoner writes in his poem, Lost, "The trees ahead and bushes beside you/ Are not lost. Wherever you are is called Here."
Wagoner is right. There is a lot to be found when lost: The beauty off the trail that I could not find on it. The teaching fear offers to every adventurer. The renewed appreciation of safety. The memory that stepping off the trail always engages risk.
Heaven & hell are the way-stations of the pioneer.
The deeper we love, the more often we will find ourselves lost. A caregiver ventures into the forest of her patient's illness, loses her way searching for a key to healing, celebrates if she finds it, suffers when it eludes her.
"If what a tree or a bush does is lost on you,/ You are surely lost." Wagoner writes. "Stand still. The forest knows/ Where you are. You must let it find you."
If we truly live love we will find many ways to be lost.
"Stand still." God's Light knows "where you are.
You must let it find you."
Photographs by Erie