On a recent evening, after a long day of work up the mountain, I stopped along my commute back down and hiked down along Glen Falls. I found a perfect spot on a perfect boulder by the mouth of a lower stretch of the falls, watched over by a lone newt.
The depression in the boulder fit my body perfectly, exactly in the way I needed to bend and stretch to relieve my stiff neck and stretch my trunk. My connection to nature, as often happens, deepened once again to my core of being. And so on my way back up the trail I was inspired anew. On that boulder I was breathed. I sank deeper into the stone, merging with it, and I felt its breath through my being. On the way down the trail, I had stopped many times to greet formidable trees. Ancient, knobby Black Gum, Grandmother Hemlock, Great Pine, curvy Chestnut Oak, Maple... thanking them along the way, loving them.
In recent times I have occasionally felt that I have fallen out of grace with myself and in this way, too, come to feel out of grace with the world. There are many reasons for this, but those don't matter. Always, again, I return to nature. Always, again, nature returns to me. Always, again, I find in nature my nature, which can never be lost. And so I am reminded and I receive, once again, from the woods and waters an invitation.
(Blessing in progress)
May your every footfall
be a blessing unto the Earth.
May you recognize the love
that comes in every form you meet.
May each breath inspire your heart
with the fullness of receiving.
May your softening glance be answered
by growing astonishment deep in your brain.
May your every word
fall with kindness into a ready world.
May your ears extend to meet
the quietest birdsong and whispers in the wind.
May you rest upon the earth
with featherlike ease.
May melodious crickets and tree frogs
sing you to sleep even under noise of traffic and barking dogs.
...to be continued.
Along the trail back up to continue my commute home, I was inspired to a new practice, which now in retrospect seems utterly obvious to me as a natural extension of much of the work I have been doing. It also feels like it might be an aspect of my Dharma, if I understand this concept appropriately.
I began to even more consciously and slowly bless the Earth with my feet. Each step a slow and deliberate sweet meeting with the Mother of us all. A deep connection of love and gratitude. A welcoming in both directions. Grounding myself to the earth, kissing her with my soul via my feet. Anchoring whatever I bring down through the vessel that I am in whatever capacity I have to hold Spirit in a sacred way.
I have said casually many times over recent years that I often consider that I might just leave stuff behind and walk the planet. I have always meant it, but in the way of stating "someday" things. Once I came to this practice, however, it seems so right, especially as these last couple of years I have shed my shoes to better meet the earth and expand this connection.
Of course it would be my practice.
In the weeks since I had this inspiration and have been making it a practice, I have experienced a deepening of the gentle connection I feel as I walk in the woods, along the river. I even feel it as I bring the practice into the car with me and imagine that I am still walking and blessing as I drive the mountain roads.
As I walked back up that trail, that day, I also had the feeling that I was laying trails for other selves. That coming and going throughout time, there are so very many "me's" and that I am establishing paths for my other selves to follow. And this makes it more profoundly sacred to me and at the same time mundane. Of course I am doing this throughout time and space. Surely I am led to this practice by the footprints of other "me's" over time-space. And of course if I make it important and give my larger self to it, it is bigger and wider and resounds or ripples out through time-space.
Just as importantly, it brings me unerringly into the moment at hand, in communion with all the trees, plants, waters and creatures around me; in clearer touch with all the elements - the sun's warmth on my skin, the gentle breeze dancing in my hair, the feint birdsong, the floating petals, the bee just buzzed past my ear, the coolness in the shadows, the fragrance of sourwood blossoms and the earthy damp mushroomy air.
And so for now, I continue this practice of blessing the Earth with my feet. It feels so utterly right to me and is a strong and steady practice to keep me on my path. It is a powerful way to return to now, to return to presence and feeling and sensing. It humbles me in just the right way without punishment and with grace.
One day more recently, I experimented with mantras as my feet met the Earth. "I love you" a step, "Thank you" a step, etc. What I discovered is that the Earth is not concerned with my voicing my love, but she welcomes my gratitude. And this was an interesting lesson to me. it is not important that we let people know (by telling, anyway) that we love them. It is very important, however, that we show pure gratitude for all beings - JUST AS THEY ARE. For though we think we long to be LOVED. What we deeply long for and truly require is to be received, seen, acknowledged - NOT for being good, or beautiful, or special - for just simply what and who we ARE.
Thank you for taking the time and care to read these words that come from my heart, from me, simply as I am.
Thank you for being simply you, just as you are.
Thank you for blessing my life with your feet as you have walked through it in your very own way.
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