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Prayer of the Woods

Prayer of the woods
Photo by Randy Williams
Along the trail towards the Upper Falls at Tahquamenon Falls State Park is the above sign, the “Prayer  Of The Woods.” The prayer has been used in Portuguese forest reservations for more than 1,000 years and can be found at state parks, national forests, and national parks across Michigan, the United States, and the world. Another sign when you enter the park reads, “Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints.” It’s something valuable to remember the next time you find yourself sauntering through the woods.

I am the heat of your hearth on the cold winter nights, the friendly shade screening you from the summer sun, and my fruits are refreshing draughts quenching your thirst as you journey on.

I am the beam that holds your house, the board of your table, the bed on which you lie, and the timber that builds your boat.

I am the handle of your hoe, the door of your homestead, the wood of your cradle, and the shell of your coffin.

I am the bread of your kindness and the flower of your beauty.

Ye who pass by, listen to my prayer: “Harm me not.”


2 Wonderful Comments

  1. I’m desperately looking for this poem…”I heard the forest praying, it’s leaves were cold and bear what was the forest saying, let me repeat it’s pray. Trees make a playground
    for children, trees make a lover’s lane. Trees have been kind to the old folks, trees have not lived in vain…” I’m 66 I heard it when I was 14 and can’t remember the rest. I love
    trees. I love Joyce Kolmer’s “Trees” Thank you… Please help me with the poem

  2. Nicole Gearhart
    Nov 16, 2016

    Hi Georgia — these are lyrics from Johnny Mathis that I found, and it looks like they might be what you were looking for?

    “I Heard A Forest Praying”

    I heard a forest praying
    The trees were cold and bare.
    What was the forest praying?
    Let me repeat their prayer.

    Trees make a playground for children
    Trees hide a lovers lane.
    Shelter the tired and the weary,
    Bringing them hope again.

    Man turned the fields and the forest
    Into a battlefield grim.
    Men took a tree, an innocent tree
    And made a cross for Him.

    I heard a forest praying.
    I heard the heavens weep.
    Just as the dawn was breaking,
    And night was gone to sleep.

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