My Sister lives on a Christmas tree farm. And while last Monday was the polar opposite to the 25th of December, as I set out on my late afternoon walk, alone, I could feel the happy ghosts of holidays past around me, the slight echo of delight as families decided, "Yes, this one. This tree will come home with us!"
Visions of snow melted away in the heat of the sun, gold, as I followed the path up a slight incline as it snaked unknowingly out of sight. I stayed on the path as I have stayed on the path. It has been a time of feeling forward blind but my eyes were kissed with beauty at every step on this Summer Solstice day, the longest of the year and one brimming with good intentions.
I had been reading a bit of astrology - whispering to the mystical to come back in to hold me up if it could, just like it did in childhood - about this event punctuated with the second consecutive full moon in Sagittarius, not only a blue moon but a Strawberry one, previously so called by the Algonquin people as they were able to pick the sweet fruit under its soft glare. This conjuncture - the first during my lifetime - was predicted to be the end of a chapter, not only delineating the final phase of what has been a challenging first half of 2016, but to something greater within ourselves.
My senses were on high. It felt so expansive to be out in the country, breathing deeply. How could I not feel a surge of joy? I withdrew the newly repaired iphone out of my pocket again and again, framing with decisiveness then to photograph, "Yes, this one. This I will take home with me." Dust on my toes, heel slapping flip-flops with the occasional vague swipe to clinging bits of pollen across my bare legs. Warmth spread around me without the sweat, no pain just a floating fearless fine being.
As I crested the hill, I caught at the breeze with outstretched fingers and began my descent, careful to crunch a little more quietly as I came towards the opening where my Sister had mentioned that deer could sometimes be caught unaware. No, today it was just the fields and me. I paused to look down at the patterns in the dust, fallen branches and traces of previous passerby, myself included. "I was here then and I am today." Click, click and click.
The shade beckoned, as did the promise of the creek that was my destination. Bubbling water holds an inexplicable draw - maybe for hopscotching back to memories of chasing crawdads or maybe with the promise of what it could carry swiftly away in its current.
Stepping onto the gray wooden slats of the open bridge, I heard a crash to my right and froze. Snaps of grass breaking drew my gaze downstream then up to the ridge directly noon in front of me where a deer - a young buck? - was bounding away. Mid-gasp of surprise, I heard the sound and saw the movement repeated as a second followed, fleeing, with a white undertail flipping goodbye. I reached to follow them with my camera, so late, having been paralyzed by their effortless grace. ("How can I describe the way that they leaped and hung in the air?" I asked my Sister the next day, knowing I wanted to write about them. "A jété?" she suggested and we both nodded in agreement.) The afternoon draped languidly across the treetops and the world seemed a bit proud of itself, this Summer Solstice shining so brightly with gifts given and the receiving of pure joy.
I shook my head slowly, a smile lifting my lips and turned back towards the comfort of my Sister's floorboard creaking Victorian house, lighter than when I started out, buoyed with quiet if completely unspecific relief. The day played itself out with the lacsidaisical shuffle of an old-school card game. Me, I was waiting for the moon. I love la belle lune and always have.
With night finally ascending, I let the screen door sigh shut behind me and headed out, hunting. Through the stolid shelter of the pines, I could see a light and headed towards it...but it was no moon. Across the indigo sky a massive storm cloud surged, blotting out the stars. Within it, lightning snapped laterally, playing tag with pockets of humidity until the mottled gray throbbed, pulsing. But the pines sighed comfortingly and so I watched, open-mouth gazing without a worry that a stray bolt could find me until the game was no longer so amusing.
I know that I have mentioned Tara Brach quite a lot recently. Her talks and writing are what have helped me the most (along with my walking and walking) during these past few months. When so much of one's world has disappeared with a magician's puff of smoke, thoughts can take a "pride of place" in the mind, shouting out in otherwise empty rooms. Now, that can lean in the direction of obsession or make the place for change.
One of the themes that she touches upon repeatedly (and often with humor) is a gentle reminder that thoughts "are real but not true" and that with compassionate reflection we can trace back those of the consistently negative variety to our core beliefs about ourselves. While waiting for the devilish storm to pass and lifted with courage from the simple splendor of the day, I felt safe enough to admit my old ones deep - like worry beads rolled between my fingers - which keep me seprarate within our amazing world; those that declare "I am unlovable" and "There is something wrong with me/ I don't belong." But somehow, I was no longer afraid of those ideas anymore. I stepped back outside to find my friend.
The moon had risen, the storm passed on. There was mon copain, playing cache-cache behind the trees. "Move further back, out into the open," it said; so I did and was flooded in its rays that reached through to my bones, sweeping me clean. As I stood there on the grass, the light shown into the darkness of my misconceptions and told me that I was very much a part of our complex world, that I had an important place in it just as we all do. That while I have my faults, I am not broken and in that moment I felt very connected to everyone and everything and in so being, felt very loved. And loving too.
"I am grateful, grateful, grateful," I sang to the moon, the sun and the hope that a new chapter had just begun.
Have a wonderful weekend, everyone.
I am heading back out to my Sister's where I have less time on the internet - and yes, that is a good thing - so I hope you will pardon me if I am not as present here in the next few days.