Grace brought me serenity
in the woods today.
I was surprised to come upon
some paintings on the trees
with plaques freestanding
about human strength
going through the twelve steps
finding light in the darkness,
as a group
to provide support
to one another.
I thought of my own fellowship,
a weekly meeting
of souls who gather
to share their experiences,
to listen without comment
to the experiences of others.
We left the grove of paintings
and walked our regular circuit
in the almost freezing dusk.
Periodically I’d hug a tree,
and as I leaned against its length,
I looked up at its branches
and told it a bit of my story.
The trees listened and stood tall
and radiated their silent strength.
Back at the car, fingers numb,
children hungry and ready for supper,
I found myself looking forward
to my CoDA meeting
at the church tonight,
being with adults
who listen and hold space.
Then my son cut his finger
and had to go to urgent care;
he hopped in the car with his dad,
who was just back from work.
I stayed home with my daughter
and remembered the paintings
and the words in the woods,
grateful for the
provided me earlier,
grateful for the fellowship
in the trees.
The afternoon light sparkles
on gently waving leaves.
My body wants rest; I listen.
I take a moment,
one little pause to reflect.
Who thinks these thoughts?
Who writes these words?
Who causes the leaves to dance
and the wind to blow through them?
It can be spacious, this moment,
The light keeps sparkling
and something within me
All at once I realize,
I’m here. I made it.
Two times I sought solace in the wood
today and it was good
being soothed by Mother Nature
in that way.
I sat on a boulder in the stream,
it would seem
my choice was sound
once my mood turned round
and I was myself again.
I sat until the night’s chill
began to settle
and the setting sun halfway done
on its path back home
shone golden on the tree friends
who held me while I said
I honor this path I am on,
and I am grateful for the means to walk it.
I summon the courage to stay on this path
and I see the rightness of this moment.
Looking up through the tall trees
to see clouds drifting
in an immense blue sky,
I realize how truly small I am.
I breathe and move from pose to pose,
remembering the impermanence of this life
in which the only constant is change.
I take pleasure in the sensations
in the sound of a bullfrog chuckling nearby,
in the feeling of a gentle, warm wind
kissing my face.
No human has ever grown to the height
of the black walnut and the tulip poplars
that grace me with their cooling shade
as I dive deeper inwards and face my own fire.
Practicing beside these towering giants
I am humbled.
Suddenly my problems
don’t seem so big after all.
I will miss you Kalyanamitta
When I walked I looked for you
and you were always there.
Towering above the petty concerns of the world,
roots deep in the earth
majestic, strong, old, wise,
you provided solace when the world’s chaos
threatened to engulf me.
I wrapped my arms around you, dear friend,
although you were so grand I could only hold
a fraction of your splendor
and I soaked in your stability, your peace,
your way of being here quietly
with a solid presence
and a most graceful air.
How many seasons did you weather
before they took you down,
and what were your last thoughts
as the saws approached you?
You, in your wisdom, probably
breathed and flowed into your next form
uncomplainingly, without fear.
Might I follow your path of peaceful dissolution,
holding on to nothing of this changing life
but welcoming the impermanence
as I welcome my next inhalation.
I will honor your life dear friend,
I will not forget you, my Kalyanamitta.
I was shocked to discover this evening that my favorite tree had been taken down some time ago. Already grass seedlings were sprouting up in the place where the tree once stood. They had done a good job at removing the stump…one could almost say that the tree was never there to begin with. But I know better. I always made it a point to visit the tree and give it a hug when I was out on walks; by its size I’m guessing it was about 200 years old and its magnificence inspired me. I named it Kalyanamitta after the Buddhist notion of a spiritual friend, because the tree embodied all the qualities I would seek in such a friend—stability, presence, peacefulness, longevity, wisdom, ageless beauty. To see the empty spot where the tree once stood left me speechless. I walked over to the empty place, crouched down, and wondered why my dear friend was gone. The picture above was taken May 4 of this year…all of that beautiful green growth led me to believe that it was a perfectly healthy tree. Now I can only trust that perhaps the tree was sick or suffering in some way and that it was an act of compassion to take it down. But I grieve. I’m mourning my Kalyanamitta.
The trouble with beginning so late at night is the fact of my willpower being depleted during the day…and so I’m left with very little energy to be creative. Today’s NaPoWriMo prompt gave us an “almanac questionnaire” and asked us to write a poem based on or incorporating one or more elements from the questionnaire. I copied the questionnaire and then pasted it into a Pages document…filled it out in no time, and then looked at my eclectic mix of answers wondering where the poem was in all of that mess. Out of the whole questionnaire, what felt the best was writing about the flora…so maybe I should focus there.
If you were to ask me
where I’d most like to be,
In a forest surrounded by
ferns, moss, rocks,
cedar, pine, oak and redwood,
wading into a lovely broad stream
flowing over smooth rocks.
The day is clear and bright,
cloudless blue skies, about 70 degrees,
and there is a delicious breeze
stirring the ferns, making them whisper.
Do you see why I could never be a city girl?
When the redbud, radiant in her new pink gown
places her arms around the forlorn forsythia and asks
Friend, stay awhile yet,
When the saucer magnolia
cries soft pink tears that pool in the grass
and spill overflowing into the road,
When the chilly wind stirs the wisteria
and frees the cherry blossoms
from their distant perch
When winter’s icy fingers still clutch
at the robes of the Goddess Spring
who longs to break free of the chains
and dance in the warmth of awakening–
When the green mist of rebirth
splashes the forest with promises
of incalculable abundance
then let us go by the river
and listen to this life that is ours.