We walked as a family, through the northern woods on that day in that particular place, with a mixture of old trees, wild flowers, and unexplained stones mortared together in some long-ago time. The trees, the granite, the flowers, the moss - they filled our senses with a quiet, attentive presence that seemed to amplify my connection to each of them.
Along with this sharing of our presence and the sampling of this piece of the natural world, we were always in the presence of other people. They walked the wide trail in small or large, comfortable groups, seemingly seeking something in the walking more than in the woods, communing with one another, glancing at the natural world, joining in some odd human-vegetative adventure.
And as I walked with my family, I noticed how similar we all are, a common observation, I suppose. And I saw how easy it is to separate myself from that sameness. Yet it is, truly, what binds us, what we share. So for a moment that day, I let go of my quest for quiet and, to my surprise, found solitude and gentle peace in the presence of these everyday pilgrims.