Thursday, October 24, 2013

Deepening Hues of the Season

Wow, it’s been quite some time since I posted. Summer has gone and Autumn is falling fast into Winter, as we had our first freeze just this morning. Beautiful bright days here, if shorter and shorter.

There were several topics I thought to post about this Summer, though, and perhaps I can capture some of that here.

Blackberries! There was a stretch of several weeks when I was walking to the river almost daily - mostly to Raven Rock in my bare feet. Each afternoon, after working, I would amble on down the soft slopes, passing poison ivy, multicolored mushrooms, slithering King Snake (rattling her tail at me!), happy patch of wild Ginger - down to the place where water and light and stone creates a lively golden world of endless inspiration for me.

I continue to fall in love each time I come to the river (or any other body of water, really). Sometimes when I think of sharing my images, I wonder if anyone might think to wonder, “why is this girl taking the same photos over and over and over again?” And yet I never tire of looking in the same places. I find new life, new light, new inspiration each and every time. It hardly seems possible.

Of course there are times it is not about capturing images. Those times I rest on the great hemlock or an ancient boulder, or I set about balancing stones on each other. It is so easy to fall into FLOW and forget all about time and most everything else, for that matter. With my feet plugged into the great mother and my head in the heavens, what thoughts do I need? What energy flows through my being? What kind of vessel am I? What can I possibly contain? Or must I, like the river, let life pass simply through me - my shape guiding and directing it, but loosely and without force as it makes its own way.

The blackberries, yes, that was what I started to talk about. After each of these walks down to the bright river, returning as the sun began to sink behind the foothills, I would walk along the forest service road and pick and eat blackberries. The bears had clearly been nibbling on some of them (I saw a mama and two teeny weeny cubs one afternoon), but there were always enough to enjoy and a few more to throw into my jar, along with some blueberries (or what some call “huckleberries”). Each day, though, there were more blackberries - on the same plants.

What I noticed and appreciated about these blackberry plants was that they provided little by little over time. It seemed to me that this is how they provide for the bears - that they ripen little by little so as to provide berries over a period of several weeks, ongoing. I was charmed to be able to enjoy them daily. Of course the same was true of the raspberries along my driveway and the delectable Chanterelle mushrooms in my yard.

This dose of deep grounding with my feet on the path, cleansing in the river’s clear water and nourishment directly from the hands of nature left me feeling more at peace than I ever remember feeling. Nor did I feel hungry afterward. It was like I had been cleansed and fed so wholly that sleep was the only remaining piece for the day.

Last Summer I lost my best furry companion of all time and then a good friend in the Fall. I learned a lot about grief and how it comes and goes and about where our friends and loved ones go within us. I learned about the cold silence that fills in the space that was once warm and lively. I learned that we are so much bigger in spirit than we are in body. I knew this already from the inside, but not from the outside.

I know for myself that just as I am at home in all that is, I am also home to all that is. And yet I did not anticipate the expansiveness of the cold emptiness that follows the death of a loved one. Not to say that they do not fill this same expanse, which they do, but that at first losing them there seemed a great nothingness where I must have thought they would still feel present. My friend and I spent most of our time together in the woods, so when I am in the woods, I feel his presence more and talk to him there (of course he is everywhere, but that just makes sense for me). My furry companion resides in my heart. When she was living, I called her my little “heart expander” because she elicited more love from me than anything or any person ever has, so I should not have been surprised to find her body nested inside of me, her heart next to mine. When I remember her, I feel her inside of me. It is a comfort to know she remains here.

Why am I still talking about these losses? This Summer a friend called on me to help with a hawk he was trying to rescue, that had been hit by a car. He had had the hawk and had been feeding and caring for it for several days and wanted me to help him release it. We set the cage out in his back yard and the regal bird walked and jumped and hopped into the yard, but try as he may, he could not make flight. Now we had to capture him again. This time to go and find someone who could rehabilitate him.

My friend lives just a couple of miles from me, and it turns out the hawk was hit even closer to my home. Right about this time, two adult hawks (the injured hawk was young) had begun calling and calling for him. For whatever reason, they did this most right around my home. Some days I would drive in my driveway to find momma hawk perched in the great white oak that reaches above my cabin, just screaming and crying away. Many mornings I was awakened by this calling, which would resume again around mid-day and then again in the evening, if not all afternoon. This went on for days, then weeks - more than a month (maybe two). And the calls grew more and more constant, more and more desperate.

I remember when Honeybear disappeared and I was calling and calling for her, begging for her return to me. Praying for her well-being. There is always that hovering question of how long to keep searching and calling. In Honeybear’s case, there came a time when I so clearly felt her absence, I knew she was gone from this world. But these birds must have felt that their baby was still alive, which he is as far as I know. They did not give up. Each day I was awed by how much time they spent searching for their baby. So often we think, “it’s nature, the cycle of life and death” and this thought comforts us when we see something dead on the road and the vultures are coming. And maybe we think that the other animals have some kind of built-in acceptance for this kind of loss.

I learned this Summer from these hawks that loss is loss, family is family, and the pain is as deep as the connection. For this reason, it feels even more imperative that we should never judge the relationships of others, for whom and how they love is sacred. And that we should never judge how others grieve or celebrate, for we cannot know the depth of another’s connections - only our own.

This Summer I learned just a little bit about how deep is my connection to the Mother and how each day she provides for me. And I continued my learning about how the depth of our connections to each other extend in all directions, and to all relations and in all dimensions.

Thoughts on Family...
I was thinking about family and traditions and stories this morning. As the holidays approach and we are all in our separate worlds - seeming to slide further and farther from each other over time - my wish is that we can find ways to meet each other and strengthen our connections. I hope that we can find ways to establish traditions and ongoing stories in our lives to carry though all of our days. That we can remember how much blood we share in spite of our economic and emotional differences, and that we can find our ways up that ferrous river to where we are all related in spirit and ancestry. Our stories and places we gathered are the places that contained us all and all together at once - let us endeavor to find and create new ways to contain and nurture our connections going forward with some regularity. 

Friday, June 28, 2013

Summer and Family...

So far, Summer has been rich. The last couple of weeks I got to spend time with nephews I only get to see once every year or two. They grow so fast and grow up, too. And yet there is the same essence inside that has been there since the beginning. It’s so interesting to see how the layers of life add to that core - to see where interests branch off and make sharp turns or simply carry on and deepen. To see what changes, what remains, what is on the edge of becoming.

I feel lucky (in the absence of having a family of my own) to have these little guys in my life. There are pieces and parts of me that got left behind somehow, and it gives me an opportunity to explore with them. And at the same time I get a chance to share whatever wisdom I have gained this time around in whatever way I can transmit that. Most often it is by simply being with them, or taking them to the forest, the river, the sky. I try to open up a space where there can be wonder, or a voice can emerge of its own accord. How many of us are too busy to let our real voice bubble up and out of us?

While they were visiting, one night we did something I don’t do often - we all sat in front of the tv. Everyone was excited to watch Nik Wallenda walk across the Grand Canyon. This brought up all kinds of questions and feelings and speculations. Over dinner, folks seemed to want to wager about how he would fare, and this felt wholly wrong, yet was natural. Inside of me was the question of whether it was appropriate for children to watch this, considering that certain death was one possible outcome and to watch that would open up something that could not be simply closed back up again till maybe a later more convenient time (or never).

And there we all sat - a couple of us hiding our eyes from time to time, my hands and feet sweating and me wishing I hadn’t eaten so much at dinner. And then there was what people were saying. I was struck, again and again, by this man’s faith and the conversation between him and his father that was the sole sound on the tv (other than background noise of the helicopter and wind reports). Mostly, it was either Wallenda praising and thanking Jesus and God and his other father giving him words of encouragement and support. It looked (and felt) like he was having a terrible time of it - heavy winds coming through and the challenge of seeing things in perspective, with the wires and the visual effects of looking across such a great divide with texture and color and so many horizontals as to confuse the matter completely.

Mr. Wallenda would stop and crouch at times to try and settle the movement in the wire and regain a manageable rhythm. I can’t comprehend or imagine what it might be like to be crouched on a wire in the midpoint of a 1/2 mile stretch over a 1400 foot deep canyon, can you? Nor what it would take to stand back up and walk across it. Again, while my mother kept saying, “God wouldn’t want him to do this!” What an interesting response to this man’s action and prayer. And it begs the question, really, what DOES God want us to do? With our lives, our time, our money, our essence.

I kept being struck by this man’s faith and prayer as he went. I could relate to it on some deep level. It felt, to me, not unlike the humility I feel in the presence of beauty, and in the place in my work (both Art and Therapeutic Massage) where I know I must invite something other than myself to come through me - or rather become one with something greater than myself - in order to be authentically present and with an appropriate degree of pure faith that surpasses any notion of ego.

Some time ago, I had a line in my head that I wanted to work with - for a blog entry or some kind of writing exploration. It went something like this, “we are each of us, always, standing at a precipice” and would go on to talk about how each moment in time is an important point of choice that shapes us so powerfully. How none of these moments is insignificant. Not the moment I decide to linger a little longer in bed to keep feeling the hue of a dream, nor the moment I am pulling a weed in the yard or listening to a friend who needs to process something out loud along his path. Not only do our choices in these moments shape us, they shape the WORLD.

And so among my many thoughts and feelings about this whole Wallenda canyon crossing, was the question of what purpose it serves for a nation or a world to watch such an event. What does it do to us, individually? What does it do to the world? Is this a spectator sport? What if he had fallen to his death? What then? What does God want US to do?

I don’t know anything about Nick Wallenda, so I use my imagination and my logic and whatever accumulation of authentic wisdom I have come to up until now. I imagine that he is carrying on a family tradition that has powerfully imprinted his blood, his DNA. Imagine what those feelings on those wires does to one’s blood - the beauty, the powerful places crossed over, the rush of so many things all together, the required faith to balance the fear with love. I imagine this kind of experience surely must blur the boundary of self and universe or self and God. I imagine this must be his passion and the way he has learned to navigate the world, the way he finds his edges and where he knows how to grow.

I ask myself, what on earth am I here to do that would take all of my courage to do? I think, perhaps, this is the question I am getting at. I talked with some folks who thought it was stupid for this man to do these crossings with such risk - without purpose. But I think that sometimes it is the most powerful gift we can bear, to lean right into faith and do what we know is both possible and impossible in order to meet ourselves on the other side of it - to find a part of ourselves that will be entirely new from the experience.

And it reminds me that when I was recently considering a call (of the calling sort) I was feeling, a friend simply asked, “what is the most courageous thing you can do right now?”

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Let Everything Be Love


I was noticing the other day that I was beginning to grasp at something. Every now and then there is something I want that is not my everyday occurrence in life. Something nice or new and different. So last week I encountered something that attracted my spirit. It was exciting to know that my spirit can still be engaged in this way, and that I can interact in this energy. And as I felt this I noticed that I was becoming anxious and beginning to grasp. I was beginning to feel some kind of attachment to outcome. So I checked myself, and invited my awareness to be fully with the grasping and to shift around it, to let it go and be more receptive or simply be. It served to open me some, but after all, the grasping was still present. It is great to be in a state of not desiring or not feeling attached to things and people in general, but then sometimes this feeling serves a purpose - to let us know that we still have feelings and desires and that’s a good thing. It can orient us in the world to where we are growing or still need to grow.

I looked into myself for guidance a few days ago and I came back with a very clear message that is proving useful in surprising ways. That message was “let everything be love.” To look into the world with the awareness that everything we meet is love. It is, of course. This way, if I am looking for this thing or that thing, or seeking love from this person or that person, I can slow down, look around and know that love is all around me - in each tree, each flower, each snake, bear, hawk, neighbor, each stone, every drop of water (and so on).

How welcoming this feels! I can stop grasping. I need not be looking for anything. I can simply welcome with each glance, every step, each new breath, the light breeze, the cool raindrop. Of course this is something that I have come to learn to do in my massage work and in my art work, but when it comes to attachments to things and people, there is a different sort of challenge - one that is not always so easy to move through gracefully.

But now I have a new tool. I can pause. And then I can refocus my awareness to receiving that which is all around me right now. I can become even more present to the air, the ground, the next person I meet.

Last night I was hiking with a friend. I have been hiking barefoot lately, and this is a hike that is not the most inviting for bare feet. In places it is full of sharp, rough, loose rocks and uneven footing. And it was getting dark. At some point, though, I reminded myself, “let everything be love” and I just had to laugh. My foot could now gracefully wrap around those rocks, as if accepting a gift of loving touch. They were greeting me to support me along the way. And each step became a meeting - in fact a joyful exchange.

No sooner had I fully absorbed and experimented with this lesson, then I walked squarely into a fresh, very gluey spider web. My head and hair were covered with this sticky silk glue and I started to flail and seek help to remove it (and hopefully its maker). And then, again, I just had to laugh. Here was another chance to learn this lesson. I walked right into this web and could now see that it did the only thing it could do - changed its shape to fit my head, as I destroyed it. It gave way and embraced me. As I was grasping at web, pulling it from my hair, I could only think, what a wonderful teaching, and it was not as yucky feeling when I looked at it this way. I just had to laugh.

Now I look forward to all the many more opportunities surely coming my way to learn each time, uniquely, how everything is love.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Gathering of Self

It’s been a busy Spring so far. Whew. I have really enjoyed working with some new folks in new places, and just when I had worked harder than ever and was looking forward to a few days off, I had an unexpected visitor who needed sanctuary and rest. Turns out they were also looking to meditate and as luck had it, a meditation retreat was just about to start over at CSA. So in fact it was a busy week, after a busy week - albeit a different kind of busy.

I’ve noticed in recent times what feels like a shift in the world of interpersonal dynamics, primarily in groups. The last few gatherings I have attended - a dream workshop in Big Sur, a massage workshop in Florida and this meditation retreat week - have all had a unique quality of equanimity and flow that feels new to me. In my prior experiences, I do not recall the same kind of grace in the interactions and flow. In all 3 of these, perhaps the difference was the quality of the presenters (all of whom feel enlightened, to me, and are working in both ordinary reality and at the level of higher consciousness). Perhaps it was the quality of the attendees. In all of these it could also be the energy of place. And of course in all of these, there is a new quality in my self. These are all true. These are all interdependent.

The uniqueness, to me, is the calm, clear, resonant quality running through it all. There is “flow” I spoke of in the previous post. People flow effortlessly together and seem to gracefully move amongst the group freely rather than in clique-like forms. Each participant appeared to connect deeply with each of the others whom they met with. I made deep connections with a few folks new to me who felt like old friends and/or family. I recognized them clearly and instantly as parts of me. Not as parts of my self, but as parts of the Self. I could see the calm, authentic clarity we reflected - each to the other. What a deliciously comforting sensation - to sit in an energy that resonates with one’s own and at the same time creates space in which to elevate it.

At the end of the first gathering - the Way of the Dreamer workshop, with Robert Moss, many attendees were saying how close they felt to each other and the group - so much so that the group decided to make a community online to stay in touch. There were deep connections made in an authentic way.

At the end of the second - the Resistance Release work, with Deane Juhan, we circled up. Usually at that time, people chime in with final thoughts and feedback and questions. We just all sat there in what felt like a gentle ocean of blissful satisfaction (a feeling that stayed with me even as I drove across northern Florida to see my mother that night for Mother’s Day).

At the end of the third - the Kriya Meditation Retreat, with Roy Eugene Davis, people were sharing long hugs with such a strong felt sense of deep appreciation for each other’s spirits and companionship along the path, it was palpable.

I guess, to me, this must represent that we are all coming this much closer to ourselves. That our level of comfort and wholeness within ourselves is evolving to a more complete love and acceptance and as we each and all approach this, we create more and more space in which to further the process and encourage it along.

And to me, it is always also the Beauty way. For it is the beauty in the world and in each other that holds the most open and encouraging frequency in which to experience natural, authentic expansion and spiritual unfoldment.

Speaking of unfoldment, I have continued to derive peace and pleasure from the lotus flowers in my little pond, so am including some more recent shots of these here, along with some shadow and water images from the last week or so.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

What transforms us?

It has been a long couple of days for me. I've been starting with new positions a little farther from home, and I've been working hard. I love my work, mind you, so it's definitely a pleasure, but it is hard labor nonetheless. To top it off, something I ate today has had me feeling, this afternoon, like, well, like a ticking bomb. Sorry. Too much information, I know.

Then I went to meet a good friend for a meal and a nice visit to catch up a bit on each other's worlds. After dinner the sun had already set, but it was still plenty light, so we walked in the local community garden, where she had started working a plot and I recently inherited one that desperately needs my attention to get it up to speed. I was walking uncomfortably around the garden - I have never experienced quite this type of sensation before so it was fairly distracting, and I couldn't help thinking how I would really not want to have to go to an ER on a holiday weekend (ok, I have a hypochondria streak).

As I was turning the car around to take my friend back to her car, I noticed the wall up the hill from where we were. I had to get out of the car and go take some photos. "These," I told her, "are the photos I started with," meaning the first photos I ever took. In the beginning it was all about the transformation of decay in various forms. This has always be the case. I imagine it always will be, in various iterations and of various stages of transformation and decay.

After I captured these images, I got back into my car and realized that I wasn't thinking about my guts at all. Isn't it funny what art can do. Getting into the state of "flow"- as Mihály Csíkszentmihályi coined it - is so powerful. It is one of many ways to inspire our bodies to slip into parasympathetic nervous system state (which massage also invites). It's amazing how simple that is. Completely the opposite of what my body did as I sat at the dinner table trying to figure out just what exactly was going on inside all my tubes and organs. Just taking some photographs, riveted by beauty, turned my system around.

On the way home, the last pink and dark violet wisps of clouds were barely illuminated by the already set sun. They looked a lot like some of these photos.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Take off your shoes...

Three days after my recent post, I came across this image on Facebook (I really hope I can find a way to post it here). I was struck by the image that also conveyed something that I was addressing in my post. I did in no way plan the post. I sat down to write about my afternoon and how it struck me, and the post is simply what flowed.

Then, days later, I saw this image. I saw the little shoes there, just outside of the line demarcating "Mother." The sacredness this child (perhaps subconsciously) attributed to the idea/image/representation of her mother. Our mother. How can we separate these? She removed her shoes before entering the container of the mother she has never met, and lay down to rest in the imaginal womb, in the place of the Heart.

Only the wisdom that is simply natural within our spirit would know how to do this. We cannot claim this wisdom as our own. We can simply feel the reverence and fall into it. I am so grateful to feel this just enough to fall into it - on occasion.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Walking the Sacred Cove

I take off my shoes and socks before alighting on the trail into the sacred forest. Today this forest is almost overwhelmingly fragrant. It is so very quiet around me, save for birdsong and the occasional mysterious wail of one tree’s rubbing against another, both shifting in gravity’s pull. Joe would always get excited and exclaim, “sounds just like a woman moaning!” But I hear something else in it - something more like a gentle sigh or a stretching creak. Sometimes it’s a sharper sound, like a squeaky door.

(It was this tree, for whom Joe lovingly scraped paint off of its bark. When I am here, I remember Joe, and sharing chocolate and oranges. I remember taking his photo one year ago right in front of this tree.)

The only other sounds I am noticing come from underfoot. The soft crinkle of papery leaf litter and duff, the muffled crunch of tiny twigs under those leaves under my footfalls. I feel the soft clay, firm but not quite granular and just cool enough to differentiate from the warmth of my feet.

As my soles meet this clay it’s more like meeting the flesh of another. We meet each other. I am not walking on the ground. The clay and I are greeting each other. We welcome each other with some vague knowing that we are related - deeply so.

I move slowly through the forest, deliberately and gently. I allow myself to be called by the beauty - by the pink Trillium, fading fast, its cousin whose burgundy hue is so dark as to appear black in contrast. I am called by the gently flowing water, right over the path. My feet find clay under the water - black clay. The soil in this cove is rich and dark - the blackest brown I know. The water surprises my feet with its fresh coolness, flowing across my toes in ripples.

I step off the trail up into the spring ephemerals, sinking into the loose earth. I imagine this rich dark soil is a result of the graceful decay of a natural forest, largely left alone and unmolested by the hands of men. Each time I return, resting logs have melted further into the earth, acorns resting around and on top, litter of the little critters of the wood. Each time new deadfall and this time a young black cherry laid open in a storm, bright with shades of warm fire in its flesh.

My favorite ancient Black Gum tree lives along this trail, a spry youngster standing close in reverence. He is so old that clumps of bark have dropped away, leaving smooth expanses accentuating just how deep and thick is the bark that remains.

Meandering through the soft filtered light of the end of day, I make my way to dinosaur rocks who feel like ancient beings to me - sometimes whales, sometimes the spine of an unnameable creature, alive and breathing so slowly as to appear stone still. I walk out on the narrow bridge of this boulder, its aliveness meeting my feet - almost as if it reaches up through me just to look out through my eyes - maybe even to show me things.

As the sun is dipping lower behind the ridge, chartreuse and vibrant greens shift toward muddy grey, and I know I should begin my return back down the mountain. I make my way down below these silent giants, through the slightly drier, more westerly slope, back north toward the trail.

I had hoped to glimpse a Yellow Lady’s Slipper today, among the Foam Flowers, Umbrella Plants, blooming Blue Cohosh, Trillium of various colors, white Clintonia just opening, Blood Root leaves still standing and not yet blooming native Geraniums. I wonder if something has eaten them or if someone has taken some away, but having been away so much this Spring, I figure I have simply missed them. Of course sometimes they simply hide there in plain sight, how I think some species, people, places find a simple grace of protective invisibility.

I look further across the wildflowers and decide to step lightly back up to the trail. I don’t want to disturb any more delicate plants, as even in my bare feet I know I can. As soon as I shift my gaze back toward the trail, there she is. This lonely lady with long tresses and an intensely cadmium yellow slipper. She greets me as if to say “thank you for caring where you step - now you may see me.” I turn and look back down the slope and see a plant I don’t remember ever seeing before. It shows up like a trillium, but without a flower and with 10 instead of 3 leaves. I wonder if this is a fluke of nature or maybe a rare plant. Continuing along, now I am called by a Showy Orchis with 5 flowers on its stalk where I usually only see one.

There are other treasures on the way back to the trail, and I gently step back onto the path out of this sanctuary, through the sweet fragrance and melodious birdsong, past the sighing trees, down past the rushing branch - full with recent rains - and into the warmer air on the southeastern slope back down to the car.

There are truly no words or images to convey this experience, so I heartily encourage you to slow down. Take off your shoes and socks. Let your toes find the earth - if tentatively - and remember what else these feet are for.

Friday, February 8, 2013

River Prayer

I have been going to the river for years. It is where I re-find my center, my wholeness in the center of the world - the tiny dot that I am, right in the middle of it all, and when I say all, I mean the entire universe. I don’t mean I am the center of the universe, except in the way that each of us is. This is the only perspective each of us has - it’s the place from which we see everything we can see and feel everything we feel. It is also the place from which we make our ripple out into the universe.

When I go to the river, I find myself. Every time. Each time I go, I am coming from some place inside myself, and through my movement into the woods, down the trail, over the rocks and red clay, the hemlock and pine needles - releasing their fresh, uplifting fragrance underfoot - to where I can hear the rush of water coursing through rapids like blood through arteries amplified, the inside of me is approaching the outside of me. I can feel the gentle air on my skin, the ambivalent breeze through my hair. I can hear the rustle of leaves and the crackle of softening acorns and brittle branches as I continue around the bend, descending closer to the beach, which is different every time I see it - sand being heaved from one side of the great snake and drifting to the other each time the flow swells in a storm.

I feel this place through all my senses, thus defining my own borders. My senses each define me differently. How far can I see? How quiet a noise can I perceive and at what great distance? What plants can I detect with my nose? Is that the river’s mud or an otter or some rotting leaves that smells so pungent? What is the temperature of the air on my skin? How fast is that wind, and from what direction? What time is it, based on the lean of the sun in the sky, or is it too cloudy to tell? Is there any moisture in the air? How soft is the dirt and clay underfoot, and do these rocks shift when I put my weight onto them? Can I taste rain or the sleepy spring bubbling out of the ground on my tongue?

Here i am. This is me. This is where I am, and these are my edges.


No. I am not a place. I am not a sensation. I am not a person. I am not the sum of all this information I am taking in with my senses.

I am a relationship. I am an interaction. I am a subtle response to elements. I am a continually changing relationship of my own elements, in no way independent from these shifting elements wherever I am.

I am an act of faith, in reverence to beauty. Every step I take, each breath a savoring of it all. Every movement a knowing, a deepening of this relationship to the wholeness. The minutest shift a coming closer to yet another center of the universe, each step opening a whole new world as I look from an ever new center. I cannot walk into the same woods, the same house, the same river twice. I can never take the same route or follow the same path again. Coming back it will all be different. I will be different. The air will have changed, with the light and the humidity and way the trees sound and the gravel under tires. And the ripple that is mine will have, ever how subtly, changed everything.

I have gone to the river for years. It is where I can let go. It is where I can come back. It is where I can say what needs to be said. Sometimes I write things in the sand for the river to wash away. Some times I give it my pain. My desire. My beg of forgiveness. Sometimes I send someone a message. Sometimes I reiterate the words of a friend who has passed on. I trust the river with all of these. The river does not judge me. The river will not tell anyone. The river can receive me. The river carries me. The river hears me. The river sees me.

The river feels me, but without specificity. You see, the river is made of so many drops of water, and they’re moving so fast that when I slip into the river, those drops each feel a tiny bit of me and their stories of me change so fast as they all keep flowing down stream, feeling the fish, the rocks, the sand, the trees the deer, the panther, the bear, the otter, the crawfish, the great boulders keening in the current. The river’s story of me is in such small increments I am of no consequence. And yet I return and return and return and return.

I return so many times that the drops of water that touched me have made it all the way to the ocean. They have made it all the way across the ocean and up the coast. Those drops have made it all the way up into the sky and been squeezed back into the field, soaked down into the aquifer, gurgled back out through a spring, into the creek and stream and back into the river again. Just like the molecules of air out of my lungs have been around the world, so have those drops of water.

And they carry me. They carry my heart. They carry my wishes. They carry my energy. They carry my prayers. They carry the prayer that I am. And there are more of them every time I go to the river.

When I put my prayers into the river they will grow. Each drop in the river will tell the others. Each tributary will bring more friends, more prayers, and by the time my prayers reach the ocean, they will be strong. They will be millions - no quadrillions - strong. And who knows, maybe someday they will fill the ocean and water the forests I love so much as they keep returning to the river.

The river is a prayer. It is a prayer for life. It is a prayer for survival. It cuts its way downhill - always following gravity’s pull, always to a bigger body of water, as if iron to a magnet. It is a prayer for wholeness, always completing its cycle, with no knowledge of itself - just doing what it must, the only thing it can do.

I send my prayers of gratitude into the river. The most important prayers of all. I am so grateful to the river. I am so grateful for it. I am so thankful for the boulders and pebbles and grains of sand - transformed as such by the river. I need not explain this gratitude, for a tree once helped me to understand and feel the difference between “thank you” and “thank you for.....” There is no comparison.

Be ever grateful. Be ever grateful for beauty. For the trees - each one by one. For the water, which is the same water that has always been here. for each person who graces your life. Tell them why from time to time, but most importantly, just acknowledge them. See them. Feel them. Let them know you do. And tell the river, too.

c)Honor Woodard February 2013

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