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Updated: Feb 15

Stone in creek at Sugar Loaf Ridge State Park
The stone that inspired the poem

“The forest has long held a place in humans’ collective psyche as a source of wisdom, healing, and regeneration. It’s where the Buddha obtained Enlightenment, where St. Francis of Assisi preached to the birds, and where Luke Skywalker did handstands with Yoda.”

~ Genevieve Morgan

While going through my training to become a Certified Forest Therapy Guide last summer in Northern California at Sugarloaf Ridge State Park, we were invited to do a 'medicine walk' to deepen our experience of the forest. Going out into the wilderness of the park for three hours, instead of three days, without breakfast to stimulate focus, I found myself wandering down Rattlesnake Creek. To be clear, throughout the trip I had been on edge about rattlesnakes, not wanting to inadvertently scare one. So, I consciously made the choice to venture down this namesake creek to address my fears.

After about thirty minutes of picking my way across boulders and rocks in and around the creek, I found the perfect spot to sit - a boulder had positioned itself in the center of the water flow and was right before a small drop. Water flowed on each side and then played it's music as it fell. The stone fit my body perfectly, nary an uncomfortable niche. As I sat there I fell into a state of being I can only describe as slightly hypnotized. The beauty of the forest and watercourse surrounding me, birdsong and other natural sounds moved through the air...and I sat still and just absorbed it.

When I finally checked the time, I realized an hour had passed in the blink of an eye. In my reverie, I was suddenly compelled to write. And write. And write. The words flowed from my pen in an unmitigated stream. In the end, as my writing drew to a close, I was presented with a gift. In my mind, I suddenly saw/heard/experienced the words - "You Are Ancient". I also never saw a rattlesnake...

And so, I present to you here the resulting product of that word flow, gifted to me by the water and the forest:


by David Motzenbecker

Sugarloaf Ridge State Park, CA

July 14, 2018


Scars of millennia mold your skin,

Your spirit deep and silent.

Each stripe, each vein

Another story – that scarlet leaf

Resting softly, who sent it to you?

Mottled green pigments of lichen

Have stories of their own; figments of days

Past. Present visual memories.

But what wisdom do you hold deep

Within? Eons mineralized, crystal

Latticework, molten mothers of yore…

And your travels – surely you weren’t born

Here, along this winding watercourse?

What violent rush, what lightning strike

Or upheaval pushed you from your volcanic nest?

You of many tons, what soft power buoyed

You to this place? Your sister, the water

Spirit, I’d guess.

Her song, soft and melodious now,

Was a brutal and punishing deluge

When she brought you to this place.

In your current home,

You while away the days, time immaterial to you,

And feel at peace as your

Conveyor becomes your moderator.

Eroding your sharp edges, rounding,

Removing, smoothing.

Atom by atom, micron by micron,

She carves away those minute

Pieces of your spirit,

Your minerals, your carbon,

Your lifeforce; seeding

The forest in a

Slow-motion starburst of


From which we too have emerged.

Fold me back into your arms,

Mossy cataracts and continue to sing

Your healing song of life across

The centuries.

Rattlesnake Creek, Sugarloaf Ridge State Park, CA
Rattlesnake Creek, Sugarloaf Ridge State Park, CA

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