On Sundays I often go to the Nunhead cemetery, which is 10 minutes walk from where I live and where a chapel survives along the trees. They have grown so thick that the sun can barely penetrate trough the leaves. Heavy rains have cancelled the inscriptions on the gravestones and they seem to sink in the moist soil.
Baudelaire sings: “ La Nature est un temple... L'homme y pass à travers des forêts de symboles”. Nature, i.e. ourselves, our innermost truth, is a temple, a portion of land or sky that has been cut off from us. It is a place where we can not go in.
There was a time when gods were living amongst men and could be easily seen by a river or in a wood.
Later the nudity of gods started to be a scandal and they were pushed inside the corners of the temples. Nature withdrew with them in those shallow recesses.
In the modern times it is not the case of nature being inside the temple.
The Gods are gone and the nature is the temple, meaning nature is reduced to that city park, that small portion of green where we go for a walk.
The modern man hears a call from there and has to cross forests to get a partial vision of the nudity of nature, i.e. of his own nature.
Forest might seem an inappropriate word for such a small amount of trees and bushes we can possibly find in a park. But it is actually the most appropriate word. The words wood or bois have their origins from the material trees are made of. Forest comes from the same origin of foreign, from Latin FORAS, outside.
In the middle age, when people lived enclosed in castles and cloisters, the vast world outside was a forest, and to forest meant to ban. The forest is exactly where Dante found himself, by the gate of all the dangers and ultimately of hell.
The modern man is now called up again, to leave his refurbished house and venture himself into the forests, into the foreign space, It could start with a walk in the park, but if he looks at the symbols, it might get him very far, maybe to the core of himself.