I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practice resignation, unless it was quite necessary, I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms, and, if it proved to be mean, why then to get the whole and genuine meanness of it, and publish its meanness to the world; or if it were sublime, to know it by experience, and be able to find a true account of it in my next excursion. For most men, it appears to me, are in a strange uncertainty about it, whether it is of the devil or of God, and have somewhat hastily concluded that it is the brief end of man here to ‘glorify God and enjoy him forever
—Henry David Thoreau
This quote has stuck with me since the first time I heard it uttered in my #3 favorite movie of all time, Dead Poets Society. This quote has a way of calling to something primal in me. Something that is buried deep down, but exists with a great intensity and fire. There is so much I could reflect on that is in this quote, but I want to simply focus on one line.
I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately…
The woods, the outdoors is for me — and for many others — a place of great sacredness. It refreshes and cleanses the soul. There in the woods, amongst the trees and streams, God is more able to be heard.
I understand that not everyone feels this way about being outside and in the woods, but I have re-remembered something in the past couple of months: I love being outside. I love being in a place where I get no cell phone coverage, away from my computer, away from people, away from the noise and distractions of the day to day grind.
These times in the woods recalibrate me. It helps me to gain perspective and hope. It helps me to hear the voice of The Creator. It helps me to know that I am known. It helps me to see what I have been made for. It helps me to sort through that which in life is good and right, from that which is wrong and harmful.
The woods is a place that I visit because I wish to live deliberately.