When leaders give themselves the time and space to walk the land – literally – we come to know the territory. If we follow our curiosity, wonder and playfulness – all kinds of opportunities present themselves. Patience is helpful.

I decided, on a whim, to explore what it means to be in community with nature – with the land upon which I live for thirty days. Is this a commitment to daily walks? No, exploring and playing outside has a whole different feel than walking. I’m looking into holes in the ground, the odd pile of decaying plant life left out for the town to collect, and occasionally the exotic flower. I’m gazing up, in and out, feeling the wind, and am keeping myself open to what’s happening in the moment, and stopping in the next. What little story will I find around the corner?

I live in a mature housing track. Some people think I live in the city, and others believe I live in the suburbs – all depends on their perspective. In any case there are many houses, most well manicured with their own unique style. Many were built in the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s. I’ve driven and walked by these homes many times, as I have a nearby field.

The field is on a busy road, but the sidewalk is on the other side near the houses. Despite the traffic, I chose the other day, to explore the side near the field. I couldn’t help notice the vast rolling, sloping space, and the sky that seemed to go on forever.

When you walk inside the neighborhood your eyes are stopped house-by-house, tree-by-tree. My perspective shortens. The fields offers a respite for the eyes that I hadn’t noticed in a car or when previously walking with “other things” on my mind. I would have just loved to step into that field and move about, but I hesitated. After all, don’t I need insect and tick repellant, and long sleeves and pants tucked into my socks? I am reminded that the earth despite the prevalence of manicured lawns and pretty houses is a wild place, and we too are creatures of the earth. Are we not wild?

Once last week, after an unexpected shower, the raindrops glistened on trees, bushes and grass. I brought a magnifying glass with me that day, it’s amazing how many rain drops a leaf can hold. If raindrops were for sale, how much would we pay for them?

And, then there was the day I tried to mimic the trees and bushes. Turns out my body cannot pose easily like a tree – too few arms, and legs. Many trees stand straight and others tip one way or the other nodding towards the street, a house, or a space between – the branches moving in variety of directions. Should my neighbors have watched, I might have looked a bit strange “tree posing” on the sidewalk or street. If I was 6, no problem, but I’m an adult – I did it anyway. I know leaders need to play.

If patience was a tree, it would grow roots and spread its branches toward the sky. It would measure the years in rings and never bark. If patience was a tree, what kind of tree might it be?

Enjoy the stories and have a playful day!

– Mary

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