The Force is the energy which moves in all things. It sends planets around stars, pulses through electrical wires and propels each component of reality along its respective path through space and time (perhaps it is better to say it is the path ). It is star and void, vortex and glacier. However whilst the Force is, in my opinion, no more “present” in certain places than others, it can be more immediately obvious or available in some settings we may encounter. We can know objectively that the busy city streets bustle with the energy of the Force, and likewise that the cold vacuum of space is exhibiting a quality of the wider Force; but for me there are few places as “Forcely” as the forest.

I recently moved to a new apartment, in a small village beside a country park – essentially an area of protected woodland. In the UK large forests are rare, at least by Northern Hemisphere standards. We are a small and densely populated island which finds its wilderness is at a high premium, constantly under threat from the encroaching need for cheaper housing and more urban space. Despite this, many Brits love the woods, spending time there each day, just walking, sitting, perhaps exercising our pets. And for me, the woods have become my primary place of refuge; my space for meditation, stillness and reflection. My place to “just be”.

My temple.

Woodlands are, by nature, ruled by trees. These mighty presences illustrate the cyclical journey of life in the Force beautifully: seeds fall into fertile earth, itself the consequence of death and decomposition for countless generations gone by. If all is well germination starts, a bud grows, watered by clouds, swayed by wind, fed by sunlight. Soon a sapling rises, sprouting supple twigs which become strong, supportive branches. These, in time, come into seed themselves, perhaps producing offspring, perhaps falling to the soil to fertilise other plants. Many seasons later, the tree itself reaches old age, or perhaps falls ill, and dies, returning to the fertile earth below a rich cocktail of nutrients and the raw building blocks of future generations.

And for that whole time, the tree is part of so many other stories. The competition of young saplings for light and water, the passing deer which threaten a young tree’s very existence. The birds and insects which may nest in its branches, lichen and moss which clad the trunk and branches of the maturing tree. The creatures which live in and feed on the decomposing matter of branches, trunks and leaves. Every tree!

But the forest is not just about trees. Each animal, bird, insect, fish, every creature which chooses to live or visit. The migratory birds which may roost for a night or two on their bi-annual fly-past, travelling thousands of miles a day to stop a night… and not just mobile life, but fungi, plants, the sunlight, the wind. The Force is so available in the forest it strikes me as impossible to miss.

Perhaps that’s one reason people choose to spend time in green space. The energy of grown, growing places rich with life has long been acknowledged as a calming, soothing and enriching experience. Not least because forests and woodlands are hives of life-giving oxygen, although of course this is no detriment to travelers on the brown paths of the wood. For me, those who love the woods, who know the peace beneath the swaying branches, are natural Jedi, attuned to a very clear exhibition of the Force’s pervasive power.

During recent periods of stress and heartache, this availability of an immediate Forcely experience has been a tremendous solace. Taking time to “just be” in a green space has taught me many things about the true scale of my problems, the enduring stoicism which is available to me at all times, and of course the permanence and ubiquity of the Force. Around me in green tendrils, emerald shoots and rich red tree bark I find the same power which moves through me; the same eternal entity which grows the trees, moves the rivers, and sends birds fluttering through the undergrowth.

For me, the forest has become and will remain my Temple. It was built by the Force, without the intervention of human hands. It is self-sustaining, like the Force. It is filled with examples of the cyclical nature of existence, of life and death and rebirth in the Force. It is a storehouse of information, and to one ready to see it imparts knowledge, wisdom and strength. A single fallen tree tells tales greater than any saga, and each forest is therefore a library to the observant Jedi.

Every plant, tree, every leaf, every glimmer of light through the branches tells a new tale of the all-encompassing Force.

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