The woods were calling.
I sat at at the feet of my Wolf, with tears in my eyes, at having received unexpected news of loss. My heart was spilling over with sorrow, and I could only think of running to the trees. So she took me by the hand, and wiped tears from my eyes. She drove to our favorite set of trails, and let me lead the way. We hiked along, through wet grass and slippery mud as we made our way deeper into the wooded area and turned the corner to a favorite path — one that’s been under water for months.
Accompanied by the frenzied calls of geese and ducks from the nearby marsh, we stepped from the planked walkway into ankle deep water feeling the mud suck and grasp at our boots. Sticking to the center of the path, or the edges, depending on the depth, she splashed along beside me, softly speaking words of love and encouragement, with a smile in her voice.
And we talked, about the sorrow of losing a man who has loved me since the day I was born — he was one of the few people in this life I can say that about — and the sudden absence of his presence in this world was a reality I was struggling to absorb. But the woods and the water were soothing. Placing my hands against tree trunks was comforting, and the sound of her voice made it easier to breathe.
The sky overhead was dark, overcast by clouds that promised rain, but held off for reasons unknown. The sun would set in an hour, and the sounds of ducks and geese in preparation for this nightly event filled my ears. Finally, I found the place I’d been longing for since that morning — a stone bench surrounded by trees, deep enough in the woods that I knew I’d see wildlife, if only we were still for a little while.
I sat, and she stood — leaning against a nearby trunk, listening while I shared with her what was on my heart. As I wound down, and fell into thought, they came. First, it was two young deer, who stopped in the nearby copse of trees and stared at me, ears twitching, and bodies perfectly still. The near one and I gazed into each other’s eyes for several long moments, in silent conversation. Then the birds began to call from the tops of the trees, a woodpecker worked steadily in the distance, and briefly, a very large and beautiful brown owl graced us with a silent, overhead flight.
I breathed in these gifts of presence, and pointed out each of them to her, as she watched me. At one point she asked me to do her a favor, and it was really a gift she was giving to me. At her request, I chose a song (the one that had been in my heart all morning, since I’d heard the news) and queued it on my phone. She stepped away, wet, rippling, water sounds following her, as she retreated to some not-too-distant place behind my back, and left me alone in my sanctuary.
I pressed my boots into the sludge and water at my feet, imagining the mud between my toes as I grounded myself. I took a deep breath, before slipping my ear buds into my ears, and starting the song. I sobbed, breathed deeply, and let the words wash over me… just as the sun broke through the clouds over my left shoulder, and cast its reflection into the water at my feet like a blanket.
I cried until I felt I could breathe again – thankful for this quiet, sacred space, and for a Wolf who would watch over me as I got lost in it. The song was set to repeat, and when it began again, I took another, deeper breath, and sang it aloud — to the trees, to the distant deer and the birds overhead, to the wet earth, the water and the sunlight pooling at my feet. I sang aloud, not caring who might hear, or how it might sound. It was my declaration and my prayer. The well of emotion in me surged, and I rode the wave, singing triumphantly, in gratitude.
As the last notes faded, the beautiful sun pulled her blanket of cloud cover back over her shoulders and ducked toward the horizon. I watched for a moment, then stood slowly to my feet. I put away my phone, and gathered myself, turning to find my Wolf sitting not ten steps away, smiling softly at me. She took me by the hand and together we walked through the water, through the trees, and the fading sunlight — finding our way back to dry land.