From the stillness of the FOREST

I believe that it is in stillness and silence that we can connect with the interior which is far beyond words and cognition but can help us to connect with the power of a design larger than ourselves and lead us to the experience of transcendence…
I remember well my experiences as a child of visiting a wild forest in the Eastern part of Poland. We were introduced to these visits as if they were sacred and magical and we loved the wilderness, with the big trees, berries on the bushes, and foraging for mushrooms amongst the flourishing fungi together with the lovely sights and sounds of the birds, animals, crickets with the vibrant colours of the wild flowers. With the blue sky above the experience of just sitting there and taking in the scene or walking and seeing the light shining through the trunks of the trees connected us deeply with the world of nature, the loved ones around us and the love within.
Every visit to the forest was like a prayer and I remember how I connected deeply with something beyond myself, something beyond the ordinary, which now, many years later, I name as God. The experience of sharing, caring and exploring the forest together gave me a sense of oneness and unity. I noticed every one of nature’s gifts around us; the running deer, the singing birds, the wind massaging our faces, the mature smell of foliage, the gentle drops of rain and the reassuring warmth of embracing the sunshine with the glorious rainbow following a powerful, yet invigorating, thunderstorm. The sheer joy of breathing and being alive and together with those I love continues to inspire and sustain me to this day. The forest always connects my past with the present moment. This living experience of the forest feeds me spiritually, aesthetically and creatively. Indeed, these childhood visits to the wild forests gave me the foundation to love life and to live through the changes which life inevitably brings. These forest explorations and adventures have empowered me to discern meaning and love, a dimension within, yet beyond, ourselves; the Divine.
I now experience this Beyond, this ultimate stillness, when I paint icons in which I feel a most powerful connection between the past and the present. Through the colours, shadows, shapes, lines and textures of the emerging icon I begin to glorify the gift of life and the presence of God in every breath I take. Whilst it was so beautiful to sing prayerfully in the forest as a child, it is also now beautiful as an adult to pray and write an icon, it feels as if every line, every brushstroke, every expression comes simultaneously from the very depths of my being and from that which is beyond all being.
I believe that God empowers us in such special ways including our creativity which is, at heart, the expression of our deepest, most authentic self that we search for, and gradually emerges, throughout our lives. It is those walks in the forest in my childhood that gave me a sense of wonder, what I can only call the sheer ‘awesomeness of being’, of being truly alive which has led me through a very active life and pointed me to finding peace and stillness in my retirement. This process has given me a real sense of joy.
There are so many gifts we can bestow upon our children and grandchildren but the gifts of stillness, joy, beauty and wonder are the best gifts ever given to me in my childhood.

Malgorzata Kmita spent over 33 intensive years working in Mental Health in the UK, Europe and beyond. Now retired she finds stillness, peace, beauty, joy and solace in the city she loves: Manchester