A Lesson in StillnessA Hike in the North Georgia Mountains

Apple Capitol of Georgia

Photo: Art Meripol

About 80 miles north of Atlanta, the small town of Ellijay sits on the edge of the Chattahoochee National Forest. Renowned as the “Apple Capitol of Georgia.”

These poems by Mark Nepo reminds me of how much I love to hike in the fall in the North Georgia Mountains. It is magnificent!

Reduced to Joy

I was sipping coffee on the way to work,the back road under a canopy of maples turning orange. In the dip of woods, a small doe gently leaping. I pulled over, for there was nowhere else to go. She paused as if she knew I was watching. A few orange leaves fell around her like blessings no one can seem to find. I sipped some coffee, completely at peace, knowing it wouldn’t last. But that’s alright.

We never know when we will blossom into what we’re supposed to be. It might be early. It might be late. It might be after thirty years of failing at a misguided way. Or the very first time we dare to shed our mental skin and touch the world.

They say, if real enough, some see God at the moment of their death. But isn’t every fall and letting go a death? Isn’t God waiting right now in the chill between the small doe’s hoof and those fallen leaves? — Mark Nepo

Excerpted from Reduced to Joy by Mark Nepo.

On the Ridge

We can grow by simply listening, the way the tree on that ridge listens its branches to the sky, the way blood listens its flow to the site of a wound, the way you listen like a basin when my head so full of grief can’t look you in the eye. We can listen our way out of anger, if we let the heart soften the wolf we keep inside. We can last by listening deeply, the way roots reach for the next inch of earth, the way an old turtle listens all he hears into the pattern of his shell. — Mark Nepo

Excerpted from Reduced to Joy by Mark Nepo.

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