Ravenwood: The Healing Forest

Photography

Ravenwood is the place to which I belong. It is my home and it is a healing forest. In 2010, after more than a year of increasing bone pain and fatigue, I was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a rare and incurable plasma cell cancer. All of us need experiences that are healing, growth stimulating, and hope energizing. The awesome beauty and wonder of nature helps us with this. Nature takes us beyond the self and invites us to become meaning-makers. So, as a way of making sense of life, I go to the forest. Ravenwood helps me to stay healthy. 

Living with life-threatening illness means I am acutely aware of impermanence and although my heart is broken, a door has been opened that allows me to see and feel beauty in an uncommon way. Less than a year ago, I started taking pictures of the beauty I was seeing with my iPhone. The photos were good. Then, as a way of encouraging me, my husband, Greg, bought me my first real camera: a Nikon D3400. Now, taking pictures has become a practice of gratitude. I use my kit lens and a macro lens loaned to me by a good friend but someday, when finances permit, I’ll upgrade. Friends and family have been my biggest supporters and have encouraged me to sell prints of my photos along with some of my writing and favorite quotes. I’ve decided to take the plunge. If you’d like one for your home, let me know. I’m happy to share the beauty of Ravenwood with you.


I am in love with the way light and shadow shift through the forest with the wind at dusk.
(p1, q1)


In nature there are no straight lines,only curves and spirals; birth, life, death, and renewal.

(p2, q2)

 Once, all people lived in close relationship with nature. Time and history have withered the bond between the human and the other-than-human world. Despite this, the Earth and All Our Relations continue to generously give everything we need. Nature-based ceremony is a way of giving something back. A song of gratitude may seem like an insignificant gesture but it isn’t. It is a meaningful way of acknowledging the gifts we receive. It is also a way of recognizing that as humans we have something to learn from an other-than-human intelligence. The simple act of offering gratitude to the natural world helps to restore the bond between humans and nature. As that bond grows stronger we can no longer ignore the fact that we are connected to everything else and that we have an important role to play in caring for the other-than-human world. Our ancestors who lived close to the land knew this. It is time for us to remember. Go to River, touch Earth, look deeply into Sky, then express your gratitude through your words, your laughter, or your tears, through song or silence, or whatever way helps you to feel alive. Express your gratitude and don’t keep it a secret for fear of how you will look or sound. Share it with the world so that others will notice. Then, in their noticing, a curiosity will blossom. Something will awaken.

(p3, q3)


Despite all the uncertainty that surrounds us, it is still a beautiful world.
(p4, q4)

When I am among the trees, especially the willows and the honey locust, equally the beech, the oaks, and the pines, they give off such hints of gladness. I would almost say that they save me, and daily. I am so distant from the hope of myself, in which I have goodness, and discernment, and never hurry through the world but walk slowly, and bow often. Around me the trees stir in their leaves and call out, “Stay awhile.” The light flows from their branches. And they call again, “It’s simple,” they say, “and you, too, have come into the world to do this, to go easy, to be filled with light, and to shine.” – Mary Oliver

(p5, q5)

There is something of the stars in these beautiful seeds. Maybe that’s why we wish on both.

(p6, q6)

We can know with our minds the ways in which we are connected but to truly internalize the idea that we are not separate, we need to be in love with the world.

(p7, q7)

The Peace of Wild Things

When despair for the world grows in me

and I wake in the night at the least sound

 in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be,

 I go and lie down where the wood drake

 rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.

I come into the peace of wild things

 who do not tax their lives with forethought

 of grief. I come into the presence of still water.

And I feel above me the day-blind stars

waiting with their light. For a time

 I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

-  Wendell Berry

(p8, q8)

I fell in love with Dandelion when Dakota was 11. We decided to make dandelion wine and spent the morning harvesting the sunburst yellow flowers. It was the first time I’d looked deeply into their friendly faces. They are exquisite!

(p9, q9) 

Go to the forest. Sit with Tree and Bird and Moss. Feel Earth under your feet and Wind on your skin.

Listen.

Listen.

(p10, q10)


Raven is a dark, intelligent, mischievous, and provocative guide. As her voice rises through the forest, she awakens what needs remembering. Raven is a death-eater, picking bones clean so that things may be transformed. She is a trickster, transformer, shapeshifter. An edge-walker who embraces the cycles of birth, death, and rebirth. She brings light to the dark world. She is ancient, strong, mysterious, and fearless.
(p11, q11)

Every human being has a unique and mystical relationship with nature. The conscious cultivation of that relationship is at the core of authentic humanness.

(p12, q12)

If you do not know what to do, or you feel depleted, go to the forest and simply ask for what it is you need. If you sit quiet enough and still your mind, the answers will come.

(p13, q13)

May you experience the beauty, inspiration, flow, and harmony of nature’s cycles, today and everyday.

(p14, q14)

(p15)
(p16)
(p17)
(p18)
(p19)