Something magical happens when women are gathered in nature. I often wonder if the ancient years of women congregating around a tribal fire or at the waters edge, washing clothes, have somehow changed us on a genetic level to seek out this kind of communion. Studies have shows that cultural and genetic evolution can work together, influencing transmission and selection. So my theories can’t be too far off.
But if this is so, if our bodies are craving communion in nature, what are we doing to them when we deprive our souls of this desire? Is it akin to depriving our bodies of food or water? Do our spirits begin to shrivel?
This weekend I went camping with nearly 100 other women. We hiked, paddled, shared food, basked in the beauty of the outdoors, wondered at creatures, huddled around a fire, shared stories, and laughed. What happens on these trips never ceases to amaze me. The depth of conversations, the vulnerability of the other women, it’s unparalleled with any other life experience. Even in church, where love and grace is supposed to prevail, there is an unspoken requirement to be or act a certain way. In the woods, there is none of this. We’re each our own and celebrated for it.
In the darkness, only lit by the whipping light of a campfire we share our stories. We share our secrets. We share our troubles and our triumphs. We bare our souls, a lesson in vulnerability I have yet to see elsewhere.
“Standing on the bare ground—my head bathed by the blithe air, and uplifted into infinite space—all mean egotism vanishes. I become a transparent Eyeball; I am nothing; I see all; the currents of the Universal Being circulate through me; I am part or particle of God.” - Ralph Waldo Emerson
I cannot fully explain what happens on these trips with women in the woods. All I can express is how I feel afterwards, refreshed, restored, invigorated, and inspired.
Thank you ladies for your vulnerability, your generosity and your willingness to explore and play.
Houston Women's Hiking is a private group for women who want to hike, camp, paddle, and experience the outdoors.