Eastern OrthodoxPhilosophyPoetry

We Don’t Belong in the Woods

This poem was mostly written on the Appalachian Trail between Max Patch and Hot Springs, NC, where I was walking for two days with my son Andy last week. You can see our hike in photos here: Ken & Andy Hike the AT

I suppose my attitude may morph with remembrance rather than endurance, but I think my final conclusion still holds true.


God put nature out where we
Can ignore it except on the rare
Occasion it comes crashing in
Or we go crashing out

And there’s nothing better
Than going downhill
Than going uphill
And nothing better than a breeze

The problem is how much
Of the world we have to carry
With us on our backs
To get away from it all

And there’s nothing better
Than a cool morning
Than a cool evening
And nothing better than a rest

There are trees like people
And people like trees
All staying perfectly still
In the way nature intends

And there’s nothing better
Than a little flat spot
Than a spot to stop and look
And nothing better than setting stuff down

You live for the next waypoint
And every conversation
Is about where the water
Flows to temporary life

And there’s nothing better
Than cool clean water
Than cold fresh water
And nothing better than cold coke in town

We take the interminable
Sameness of nature
And make a myriad of things
The myriad of fungi just make death

And there’s nothing better
Than a walk in the woods
Than a walk in the city
And nothing better than standing in awe

We don’t belong in the woods
And we don’t belong in cities
We belong in gardens
And we belong in temples

And there’s nothing better
Than the Pantocrator heavens
Than the Theotokos sky
And nothing better than people as trees worshiping

Kenneth O'Shaughnessy

Kenneth O'Shaughnessy

A Northerner by upbringing, Kenneth has lived in the South since his (first) college days. After returning to college, he began to do more than just dabble with writing, and has self-published a children's picture book, a middle-reader's book, and several collections of poetry. Baptized in the Roman Catholic church, raised in the fundamentalist Baptist church, and having spent time in the Reformed Baptist church, Kenneth settled down in the Eastern Orthodox church in 2006.

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