One of the highlights of my trip to Michigan last weekend was a quiet walk in the woods on Sunday morning. It was a gorgeous sunny day with temperatures in the low 70s. I was eager to get some exercise and fresh air, so I searched on Google for walking paths near me. A nature trail with a boardwalk popped up just over a mile away from my hotel. Perfect!
When I typed the address into the navigation app, it looked like the directions ended in a residential neighborhood. Since there didn’t appear to be a place to park and it wasn’t too far, I chose to walk instead of drive.
I trotted along a somewhat busy highway for about a half mile before turning left and then right up a winding road into a peaceful little neighborhood in the hills. Sadly, when I arrived where the app directed me, there was no sign of a nature trail. There was only a space between two houses. Rather than traipse through yards in search of the trail, I decided to continue my walk along the streets and enjoy the beautiful morning and the pretty houses. My decision yielded unexpected results. Five minutes later, I stumbled upon the entrance to the nature trail!
Grateful for my luck, I left the street and began walking along the trail into the woods. Autumn was starting her spectacular yearly show. There was just a smattering of bright red, orange, and yellow leaves among the trees. Purple and yellow wildflowers grew on either side of the trail that led to a boardwalk stretching across a trickling creek.
I stopped on the bridge to enjoy the soothing sound of water flowing over rocks and underneath me. That’s when I spotted a great blue heron standing motionless just a few feet from me in the creek. As we stood there looking at each other, the wind blew through the leaves and pine needles of the tall trees surrounding us, making a soft, whistling noise. Peace was palpable.
After a few moments, I said goodbye to the heron and continued on my way. The boardwalk eventually turned into a paved walkway as I strolled out of the woods and in between two residential neighborhoods. Brightly painted birdhouses lined the fence that separated the trail from the backyards. Many of the homes had ideal birdwatching views from decks or sunrooms overlooking the beautifully landscaped path. I hoped the inhabitants enjoyed those views. I sure would!
I don’t recall seeing many birds except the heron and a crimson cardinal who made a brief appearance when he flew out of a bush and into a nearby tree. However, I noticed many squirrels busy gathering acorns for the coming winter. It was comforting to my soul to be immersed in a world of nature similar to where I grew up in Upstate New York. What an unexpected gift! And other than one woman walking her dog, I had the whole scene to myself.
The trail ended at another residential street, so I turned around to enjoy the sights and sounds in the other direction. When I reached the spot where I found the trail, I had to make a decision. Should I turn left and go back the way I came? Or should I cross the street and continue on the trail in the other direction?
The latter would be a risky proposition. My goal was to walk for about an hour, and I had already been walking for 45 minutes. If I chose the trail, would I be walking toward the hotel or away from it? By the way, I am notorious for being “directionally challenged.” My head said to play it safe and go the way I came along the busy road. My heart wanted to stay on the path a little longer and enjoy more of nature’s beauty.
Despite my history with directions, I decided to follow my heart and continue along the nature trail. I’m so glad I did! There were many more beautiful leaves and flowers to admire. Along the way, I also encountered a wooden sign with a map of the entire nature trail. To my surprise and delight, I discovered that if I kept going in this direction, the trail would end just a half mile up the road from my hotel.
By taking a chance and following my heart, my walk ended up being the perfect distance taking just over an hour from start to finish. It was a powerful reminder to trust my heart and keep going even when I don’t know where the road may lead.
Could you use some assistance in following your heart to destinations unknown? It would be my great honor to walk the trail with you during a series of Spiritual Coaching Sessions. Together we will discover where your heart wants to go and what might be in the way. With a fresh perspective and new tools to help keep you on track, you can change course and start enjoying a wonderful walk in the woods of life. Please look around my website for more information or to book your first session.
Until next time, may you find the courage to trust your heart and just keep walking.
He walks in peace who travels sinlessly along the way love shows him.
A Course in Miracles ~ T-23.in.2:5