If You Go Down To The Woods Today…
…you’re sure of a big surprise.
OK, well maybe you won’t be that surprised by what you find there, but you will most certainly be taken aback by the simple beauty that you find there.
On May 9th 1871, Gerald Manley Hopkins wrote the following in his journal, regarding his experience of a bluebell wood:
It was a lovely sight. – The bluebells in your hand baffle you with their inscape, made to every sense. If you draw your fingers through them they are lodged and struggle with a shock of wet heads; the long stalks rub and click and flatten to a fan on one another like your fingers themselves would when you passed the palms hard across one another, making a brittle rub and jostle like the noise of a hurdle strained by leaning against; then there is the faint honey smell and in the mouth the sweet gum when you bite them.
What I love about this description is that it is so mindful of the sensory experience. The feel of the flowers between the fingers, their ‘faint honey smell’, their ‘sweet gum’ taste, their ‘brittle rub and jostle’ sound – just bliss.
Two of my favourite bloggers are writing about two different themes over at their blogs at the moment. Joanna Young from Confident Writing is writing about Powerful Writing and Rosa Say from Managing With Aloha Coaching is writing about Humility. I thought about both of these themes and how they connect as I looked at the photos that I took today of the bluebell wood and read Hopkins’ journal entry. It seems to me that by remaining humble, by retaining our focus on the seemingly small and modest, we can tap into a powerful source of truth which does not simply resonate with the individual writing-self, but also with all those who read their words. When I read the word Hopkins wrote over 130 years ago, I feel the dew he felt, I smell the honey scents he smelled, I hear the rub and jostle he heard, I taste the sweetness he tasted. His words describing a simple trip into the woods ring with truth. They transcend time. They are powerful and yet they are simultaneously humble. As is all truly great writing.
When was the last time you took a trip into the woods, or indeed any natural setting, such as the beach, the lake, the waterfall, the desert? What did you find there? Could you describe and share with us the sensory experience of being there?