Medicine Walk Number One

When I really need guidance, I take a medicine walk. Far more than a walk in the woods or a ski on the snow, a medicine walk is deeply intentional time in nature.

Two recent deaths in my family reminded me of the power of this ancient form. My father died on Veteran’s Day (November 11). Several days later I spent the day alone in a nearby state park. Drawing a tarot card for guidance, being smudged with sage, and speaking my intention for the day: to find words to honor him at his funeral, I set off on foot on a rainy northwest late autumn day.  Everywhere the presence and abundance of nurse logs spoke to me of the legacy that my father leaves in place.



A nurse log is a downed tree or stump in the forest that slowly decays and provides sustenance for the seedlings of moss, ferns, and young trees that will take its place. These nurse logs are critical to the ongoing health of our forests in much the same way my father’s life values and teachings are critical to my ongoing navigation of the world around me.

I used the strength of that metaphor to find words to speak at Dad’s funeral on Nov. 27. One of five stories I shared about him was how I got to fish with him from a very young age . . . and launched my lifelong love of nature.

Next blog: Medicine walk with my son

4 replies
  1. linette harriott
    linette harriott says:

    I have never heard the term ‘nurse log’. Thankyou for this. I often find the presence of nature and its reminder of our place in the (much) larger picture is comforting and brings peace and perspective. I hope you found that too. LX

  2. Jeanne Petrick
    Jeanne Petrick says:

    Ann, thank you for sharing the wisdom of the medicine walk as it related to your Dad and for the strength that it has offered you at this time. It so touched my heart. You are always the teacher – even now when you could understandably retreat from any sharing. With hands palm to palm, I bow to you in respect and appreciation for who you are. I am better today for your sharing the medicine walk. Gratefully.


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