If for you, the bush is just wood in space with a few critters thrown in, you’ll think I’m a fruit-loop if you read this, so it’s probably better for us all if you don’t. It’s not inspiring or uplifting today, but I still think it’s important…

Blue Mountains wilderness


I’m not what you’d consider a spiritual person. Despite plenty of soul searching at the time, I haven’t believed in a god in 20 years (or more). My logical brain couldn’t rationalise it and since then, that side of things hasn’t had a lot of thought. But recent experiences have me questioning if spirituality is really so black and white for me after all.

As far as our ups and downs go in life, last year wasn’t spectacular for me. Three quarters of the way through I I had to find a way to change course. For me that’s dropping everything and losing myself (not literally!) in the bush. While hiking is great, the scenery was epic and a challenge has it’s own appeal, the real reason was for the deep healing I only know how to come by with solo time in the bush.

There’s a presence about the space. It’s bursting with infinite, intricate beauty. Creatures make their way under every leaf and shadow. Animals grant us glimpses into their world, even as we startle from the encounter. Minute life teems in unexpected places. Wind dances on the water, painting dappled reflections on the rocks. Trees, their presence, grounded in every sense, ground us. Nature breathes, we breathe.

Encapsulating this presence was a timeless moment I was unobserved and stood enthralled, witnessing a normally reclusive red-belly black snake on it’s morning hunt. When I needed it, nature granted me this rare gift. Words now belie the significance, but to me that felt as close to a god looking out for me as a right-brain atheist will get.

A vast wilderness area that took me 6 full days to traverse granted me healing, rejuvenation, challenge, simplicity, rawness, separation from the confusion of civilisation, deep feelings of a dimension the city doesn’t fathom, wonder, beauty, memories. The scratches turned to scars I honour, they remind me of those gifts.

On the final day, I gazed in awe across the wilderness where I’d walked, overcome with gratitude – to feel nurtured with tenderness by something so wild. The bush. So generous, so innocent, so vulnerable.

2 months later and it’s crystal just how vulnerable. Not a single square metre of that bountiful life stands untouched by the ravaging fire. Would the echidna have cowered under the same log when the furnace smeltered through? Would the goannas have startled up the same trees amidst the flames? What about the exquisite black snake who poured honey into my soul? Maybe some ants escaped far enough underground…

I should have known it was coming, that grief isn’t reserved for losing humans, or one being at a time. The same story playing as a chorus across the Australia’s forests.

Society’s convention dictates I finish with a positive spin, but if society’s conventions got us here, maybe that wisdom has limits. And maybe it’s ok to career into the deep sometimes, reserving the gloss brush for another day. It’ll come, but some loss deserves our hurt. The positive spin can wait.