February 14, 2017

Finding Sanctuary In The Simple Life

Simplicity provides sanctuary from the buffeting winds of modern consumer life. In this place one will enjoy great inner peace.

I was crossing the field behind my house on snowshoes yesterday, headed for the shelter of the forest below. I was fighting my way through a white out while being buffeted by wind gusts reaching 100 km/hr. It was scary and strangely exhilarating, like life in general these days.

After almost being knocked over, I made it to the edge of the trees. More than other days, it really felt like going "into" the woods. In the open deciduous trees at the forest fringe, it was still quite windy, although I didn't feel like I would be blown away any more.

That part of the forest is like a vestibule, or covered porch. The real shelter is just a bit farther in where the spruce forest begins. The spruce forest grows close in, the trees not minding rubbing snow covered shoulders with each other.

It is here that one can find total reprieve from the wind, regardless of speed or direction. Although I could hear the freight train wind around me, where I was in the trees was complete calm and tranquility.

While the snow was blowing horizontally at face-stinging speeds in the field, just a bit farther on I stood in a pocket of peace surrounded by snow covered spruce. Here, unbelievably, the snow was gently falling straight down.

Afterwords, while warming up by the fire back at home, I thought of how a simple life is like that pocket of calm in the spruce trees. Living a slower life with fewer things with which to concern yourself, provides sanctuary from the wild storm of complication raging all around.

It was only because I knew that the forest would provide me with sanctuary as soon as I got to it, that I was fearless in striking out across the wind-blasted expanse of the open field. So it is with the sanctuary provided by simplicity.

I can engage in the world without fear of being blown away by it, because I am always able to return to the calm, tranquil existence that simplicity provides. And who couldn't use more peace, calm and tranquility in scary times?

For fast acting relief from the storm, simplify your life. A spruce forest is also good.


  1. This is a great story. I find calm and tranquility late at night, outside in my small backyard area while looking up at stars and the moon when much of the noise pollution stops. The more I simplify the more calm specs there are.

    1. Terri,

      Wherever you are, there's the sky overhead. That is as "wilderness" as it gets. Out here in the country it is very dark, so the night sky is bright. In the summer we lay in bed and watch the stars through our window before drifting off. Watching stars is a nice way to end a day - so expansive. The possibilities!

  2. Anonymous2/15/2017

    It's certainly wintery in Canada. The UK is starting to get ready for spring. There is something interesting about the forest. It feels like a timeless place, where animals are passing guests. It has it's presence, but does not judge or communicate. I feel the forest is a different world from that of human language and meaning.
    There is peace in simplicity and my life is surprisingly full. Once you meditate, run and cook simple meals there is not a lot of time left. Of course work takes up a huge chunk of time too. I also study the world around me and try to use all aspects of my body.

    1. Alex,

      Linda and I have been in London in the spring - beautiful. While it is still winter here, flowers are growing there. I do love the forest. Here old growth forests have continued undisturbed since the last ice age - about 10,000 years ago. Until Europeans came. Now, after only a few hundred years at most, such pristine places are rare anywhere in the country.

      If I had a time machine I would go back 1,000 years and check out the great forests of Britain. Apparently forest cover there is increasing today (after being fairly decimated), and there are many great trees there still, some up to several thousand years old. The Guardian has many excellent articles on UK forests, historical and present day.

      What you say about full days is so true. My dad always said that "living well is a full time job".

  3. Beautifully written Gregg. I didn't go into a forest today, but I did sit by lamplight this evening and start knitting cotton dishcloths to replace those we lost in November. It was simple and soothing, and just what I needed after a day out in the work world.


    1. Madeleine,

      That sounds wonderful. Peaceful, meditative, and functional. It sounds like things are going well for you, and that is so nice to hear.

  4. Anonymous2/15/2017

    Very poetic and calming. You are brave...not much snow falls where I live and being outside in white out conditions would frighten me. But you knew that the forest was there as a sanctuary and that thought gave you strength to keep going. Lovely. -- Mary

    1. Mary,

      I see the forest from my window, and I hear it calling me. I must answer that call, even in the middle of a blizzard.

  5. Beautifully written. It reminded me of John Muir climbing into the tall trees during a storm to feel what they felt when the winds blow. “A few minutes ago every tree was excited, bowing to the roaring storm, waving, swirling, tossing their branches in glorious enthusiasm like worship. But though to the outer ear these trees are now silent, their songs never cease. -John Muir

    1. Marla,

      That's awesome! I have not climbed a tree in a storm, but I have hugged a tree during a storm, and that was pretty cool. Not only could I feel the trunk move, I could feel the ground under my feet move as the tree swayed back and forth.

      I love the Muir quote. Thanks for sharing. I can hear those songs. Magic.

  6. Anonymous2/16/2017

    Our country Slovenia is one of the most wooded countries in Europe. Everyone, even those who live in the cities are just a few minutes away from the nearest forest.

    Three years ago there was massive icestorm in our country and a lot of woods was destroyed. It was sad to see how very old and big trees were broken. After that our woods do not look the same, I hope that things will get better but it will take a long time for the woods to fully recover.

    My favourite thing to do is trail running in forest - nothing else helps me to feel so fresh and energized. There is something really magic in forest.

  7. Michael Slusar2/18/2017

    Namaste dudes...Not sure if you got the previous comment. Glad to see you are enjoying the epic storms of the east...I miss them, and yous too. All best!


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