Entries Tagged as 'hiking'

Loss and Life

Monday, August 18, 2014

Loss and Life

Yesterday I took a long, solitary hike to a waterfall, where I saw, among other brilliant trees, this towering specimen. The rugged beauty of this bare old-growth pine silhouetted in grayish light moved me to a silent stupor.

This time last year, I painted a similar tree from memory after hiking in the Appalachian mountains and returning home to heartbreak. The painting was about the prickly quality of loss, that utterly naked yet defensive state where we want to draw inward and lash out, where we want run away and give up, yet by some sardonic miracle, we’re still standing, stripped to bone, left to begin again.

As a person and a therapist, I find the starkness of nature reassuring. Even dead trees contain myriad life; the barest branches hold the birds.


Sunday, August 17, 2014


“Seeing. One could say that the whole of life lies in seeing –
if not ultimately, at least essentially.”

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin SJ

I wound my way through the Great Smoky Mountains at dusk yesterday, after 10 hours of dizzying driving. Back-lit clouds had formed over the peaks, as puffy and intricate as the tree-covered behemoths below. I had only seconds to glance at the spectacle before attending to the twisting road, this place as new to me as I to it. Waking today in a Tennessee creek-side cabin on retreat, I sketched my impressions from the drive.

I didn’t bring acrylics or canvas on this trip; I’ve come here to write and hike, and perhaps through osmosis, gather inspiration for more paintings. From each cabin window is a paint-worthy view, but again, that’s not my mission right now. When I’m amidst great beauty but unable to paint, I have to trust that I’ll gather the impressions I need, whether or not I physically document them. Sometimes, the best material for new work arrives when I stop and just witness. Later, when the time is ripe, I can scribble my wonderment.

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