when god is gone, everything is holy

once upon a time, i was in deep despair. grief upon grief had broken me and i was uncertain i could go on in a life that promised only more of the same. those were both harrowing and hallowed days…months… years. what became of me during that time, i cannot fully explain. at the time, it felt like something outside of me surrounded and infused me with Love each time i was at the end of that proverbial rope, the noose round my neck, ready to step off of the chair.

sometimes it was a light so warm and bright that it completely suffused me. sometimes it was a more physical sort of love-making, my body responding as if touched.  sometimes it was small gifts of wonder, upon wonder, upon wonder, saving my life.  sometimes it was words spoken in a dream, a voice awakening me to a life in which i was ‘bound to beauty’. sometimes it was the feeling of being held by a Love that received me with such an encompassing embrace that I understood that such a Love simply could never leave me abandoned in a desolate place without hope.

along the way I healed, bit by bit, and fell in Love with life again. fear of this life, and of that one, released its hold.

i don’t know exactly what That was. at the time, it felt like God to me. it certainly felt like something outside of myself, like i could not have conjured such things.  but now, i don’t know, perhaps the human spirit is more creative than we give it credit. in the end, it doesn’t matter to me what it was.

gradually, along the way, that Other disappeared from my life. not that the feeling of life being precious was gone, but that the sacredness of life was now diffused across the whole of the earth, permeating it all. this was not an entirely new awareness or way of being for me, but was more like a return to who i was, to who I had always been, and to what i had always known, as if it was that painful rupture, which had momentarily made me forget and deny life’s inherent goodness and innate beauty. what the intensity of that excruciating time perhaps gifted to me, however, was the awareness that even the terrible is beautiful, even the horrific holy. the crown of thorns is a basket of flowers. no separation. anywhere. ever.

the earth has always been a sacred place to me, particularly the natural world. the sacredness i experience in an unmanned place is exquisite. human beings can make that understanding more problematic. we hurt one another deeply.  and yet, i have also returned to that deeper knowing,  which in the child is named as naïve but in the mature adult is wisdom, that we humans are also innately divine. good. blessed. Love.

sometimes i miss those years of God loving me, that feeling of Belovedness.  it can be hard to feel as if one is cared for in a world where humans hurt one another deeply. it can be hard to feel seen, held, beloved by . it can be hard to know how to pray when there is no one ‘out’ there.

when there is no separation.

between the holy

i am the seer, the holder, the lover.

i am the One that is needed

the reciprocality for which i  long must come from the other seers, holders, lovers in this place – human and nonhuman alike. animal and plant, water and air, sound and touch – in a world where everything is God and there is no thing Other.

i had the time of my life – day 4 and 5

Rosebary Lake, May 18

Warm morning, dawning pink on the horizon. Bittern galunks for a mate, white throated sings of her sweet Canada, two Canada geese honk their way low over the water, woodpecker works for her breakfast, and the requisite grackles and red wings punctuate the marsh with their nasal trills. The morning choristers beyond these – too numerous to count.

Out of the tent before 5:30, the glow of daybreak inviting me to bear witness to her secrets, I am awake early, despite the grueling day that was yesterday, after which I was certain I’d sleep forever. A subtle sunrise, with no clouds to catch her, but still the pinks cast their nets over the water.

In bed last evening by 9:30, I suppose I did get my full 8 hours, except for those moments @1:30, when I woke for a drink of the stars- my first real opportunity of the week with our early bedtimes and the fullness of the moon.

A loon calls, the beat of wings overhead strums, two red squirrels chase one another through dry leaves, a dozen or so mosquitos alight. The sun now peeks her orange eye, just a glance over the edge.

Yesterday, we also rose early, about the same time as today and were on the water by 6, just as the sun made her appearance. Beginning the day in such tranquil beauty, we paddled where beaver and otter play. We saw none of the latter, but noted much evidence of their presence – scat on logs and burrows in banks. We spotted a few white-tailed deer in the marsh, the first I have encountered here. Though I have heard reports of moose swimming across this river, moose by the dozens in these stretches of water, we have not yet been graced by one. Who would guess that such a large creature could be so elusive? Size does not necessarily make for boldness, I suppose.

Perhaps they are here even now, in these woods over my shoulder. Certainly the evidence on this campsite, piles and piles of mooseberries, at least a half a dozen between our tents and the fire ring! would indicate that could be so.

Back to yesterday- we continued our morning paddle along the Nippissing through the marsh to where it intersected with Loontail Creek, then along that creek to the portage into Latour Creek, which narrowed as it wound its way to the end of its watery trail, which by this time was no more than a beaver run through the bog. The beaver run petered out such that we could not seem to make forward progress at all, and so we decided we surely must have missed the portage sign and turned back. Back to a point on the map where we took our bearings from an inland pond and an entering creek, we paddled, then turned back once again. For an hour we searched (crossing the same creek-spanning log 3 times) until back into the petered out run we pushed through, lining the boat near the end, and at last caught a glimpse of the portage sign.

That portage took us 3 hours (including several rest stops and a lunch break, where we cooled our feet and poured water over our heads, then laid back in the grass for a nap) The uphills and downhills tested our stamina and our strength. When we finally got all of our gear across, we were dreading the final 450 meter portage of the day, which we could see across the small Floating Heart Lake from where we sat. We were so very tired and expecting more of the same from that next portage – hills and muck – but fortunately for both our bodies and our spirits, it was straightforward, flat and dry! , for which we truly gave thanks. Landing on Rosebary, we opted for the first site we came to and crashed!, cooked a quick dinner on the backpacking stove for expediency, drank several mugs of rum and went straight to bed.

I have just made a trip to the box on this site, upon which we landed as if shipwrecked, as if it was a miraculous desert island and not at all the ‘poor site’ we had been warned that it was. Perhaps because of its reputation, folks have largely abandoned its use altogether, for the trillium grow in abundance amongst the trout lily and viburnum surrounding the box. So spectacular is such small beauty, and so easily overlooked in search of the grandiose. (such as those elusive moose)

Later, early afternoon, at the end of the portage around the falls from Tim River to Tim Lake.

The wind gusts are phenomenal here and so we are waiting, perhaps for even a few hours until the (hopefully) quiet waters of late day, before crossing this shallow bay whipped up by those blasts. Who knows, perhaps we will be taking a midnight paddle from here. That full moon I bemoaned earlier in the week could be our friend now.

The morning’s paddle up the Tim River was breathtaking, with light and shadow taking turns on the hillsides like children at play, illuminating the fresh green and yellow leaves of spring’s awakening. The marsh at their feet was alive with color as well. Two Bull Moose, munching along the shoreline right next to our site as we paddled away from camp, added to the magic of the morning.

Except for this wind!!, which made of a leisurely up river paddle a significant physical chore, such that even before we arrived at this end of the portage trail, it had stressed our weary bodies. Each day, except the layover day on Grass lake, has had its challenges.

The first of the boats, with which we have been waiting out this afternoon blow, has made passage across the windswept bay. I am less confident after watching them cross than before they did so. The second boat, a solo, paddled by the man, a strong experienced paddler, with whom we shared the campsite 2 nights ago, has just set out across the bay too. He has been blown off the course he suggested he would take, and has had to tuck in behind some tufts of marshgrass. The clouds on the western horizon look ominous now, which is no real surprise, given the strength of these winds. We shall continue to wait.

I have moved over the lip of land at the water’s edge to the other side of a logjam dam, where the water flows and cascades over the rocks. Here there is no wind at all. As I lie back, I can watch the clouds flow overhead, cascading in a way too, I suppose. I wonder what is behind them that has made them build up to crash over the edge so.

Though I am protected here, I can see, across the falls, the grasses lying down almost horizontally in the wind. Still, I can relax here without monitoring and fretting quite as much. Deirdre has lay down in the canoe for a nap.

The insects are abuzz on this side, away from the wind. My guess is there was a hatch in yesterday’s hot temperatures (the ones that encouraged Deirdre and I to pour bottles of water over our steamy heads). That, as well the pollen in these prolifically and suddenly budding trees, seems to allure them. We watched the fish leap from the water to snatch at those insects this morning. I expect this morning’s escalation in bird song is not unrelated.

Later, 9 Pm, Tim Lake campsite

We wound up staying at the end of that portage until after dinner, which we cooked on the stove in the lee of the embankment, where those blackflies (my virginal experience of them) munched on my forehead, beneath the brim of my hat. They behave like gnats in a way, except for those flesh tearing bites, and they too seem to prefer to be out of the wind.

We had to hunker down underneath the overturned canoe to ride out the thunderstorm that finally rolled over us, rocking the boat several times and bending trees into bows over our heads. It was an experience unlike any i have had her before, and I am grateful for it.

Perhaps we should have set out earlier, when the others took their chances, but the paddle would’ve been arduous in that wind and we have been exerting ourselves so strenuously these past days. I don’t know that we’d have had the energy or the endurance at that point. After that rest, during which Deirdre dozed and I journaled, and refueling, we were refreshed and antsy to get back on the water. That was just about the time we heard the first thunder clap and rumble in the distance. We felt quite fortunate that we weren’t out in that storm with no place to put ashore.

Finally, during a lull in the storm, we set out, and by 7 o’clock made it here to the first campsite on Tim Lake, with its sweeping view, windswept though it remains. After setting up our tents for the night, we sat silently together, soaking it in, for a half an hour or so before bed. I was grateful that we had already made dinner and did not have to cook and clean up after making camp. Finally, a rainbow graced our goodnights, fleetingly though, as those clouds rolled back in shortly thereafter. The wind howls in the trees even now. Both of us wish for a calm morning and a graceful goodbye.

The Tim River is really remarkable and I would love very much to visit it again someday soon, perhaps paddling the opposite direction next time. I do hope Deirdre will join me again. I fear that this trip may have discouraged her. I cherish her so as a companion and willing partner on these trips. We shall have to be more careful about our planning in the future. I was anxious about this trip before it began. My instincts and experience were perhaps correct. Still, I would not take it back for anything! What a journey we have had.

Sleep now. So very necessary. Good night.

Postscript. The next morning, we woke to a light coating of snow on our tent’s roofs, before we packed up and paddled our way out of the Park. What a wide range of weather and experiences we had on this trip. I am still smiling inside when i think of those days.

for days 1 through 3, look here

Healing waters – part 4

Thursday, July 27, Bonnechere Lake

Morning in the tent.

Outside the flung wide tent flap, I spy small patches of blue, but mostly encroaching and retreating gray, as it also was when I was awakened with a start in the middle of the night. Having felt something scurry across my hand, I was certain it was a mouse, run in through that open tent door, seeking our warmth. He was nowhere to be found, however, when we searched the sleeping bags for him, startled as he also was, no doubt, into a hiding place.

Rising from the tent then, drawn to the majesty of the stars outside that window, yearning for another long drink of them before we depart this place, I walked out to the point. The dipper was just above the horizon by that time, 4:00am, dipping its ladle into the water in the northern notch, I understood completely in that moment why the ancients saw it as a dipper. Some gazer long ago surely beheld this same starry sky spread out over the water. The morning ‘star’, rising bright above the eastern sky was there as well, as was the milky way with its broad stroke of hazy white in the west. How awake and alive I felt in that moment.

Just as quickly as that sky had unfolded for me, as I turned to walk back toward the tent, the clouds rolled in across half of the sky. The stars tucked themselves back beneath the blanket as did I, each of us returning to sleep. I was suddenly quite grateful for that little mouse.

I dreamt again last night. Two nights ago, I awoke screaming, “DADDY!” as a menacing man had come into my room intending to harm me .  Last night, it was feelings of unworthiness and shame that made their appearances in my dream. Neighbors from my home town, putting me in my place, ‘subtly’ reminding me that they were more important than me. I was, after all, nothing. Then Don on the phone being badgered to confess that ‘Vicki doesn’t Love me anymore’ Whew, the way these camping trips bring up the wilderness in me!

I gaze at this man asleep beside me and I know I will love him until the day I die. My definition of Love over these past years (and even months) has so deepened and expanded. I realized the other day, when sharing with Don how I long for my daughter to find someone who loves all of who she is – who sees her fears as lovable for instance – that he deserves the same. Someone who simply loves the whole of him, who gazes upon him with tenderness. I am that one.I read a few weeks ago that contempt is the biggest predictor of divorce. I must guard to not allow contempt to find its way into my heart. I think perhaps it is time to wash Don’s feet.

Now i must rise from the tent to begin preparing breakfast. The winds continue to whisper, then roar, in the pines. The wood frogs with their strange clacking are slowing, and a few twittering birds are busy in the blueberries. The world is awake. Now, so am I.

Thursday Afternoon, Ragged Lake

We left camp this morning at 10:00, arrived here at the north end of Ragged Lake by 1:30. This campsite is not very nice at all, exposed in a way that is not pretty, with downed trees and scrubby vegetation, but it will serve its utilitarian purpose, allowing us to get an early start on the waters of Smoke Lake in the morning. We need just a spot for our small tent and I can really cook just about anywhere with the isobutane stove if the fire pit proves to be too oppressive in the sun or the wind. Don is currently under the tarp, ‘exposing’ himself, as he is quite chaffed from our travels!

We are both fairly tired again. The paddling was hard against the wind today. Perhaps this evening we might go out again, on more placid waters should that occur. For now, we will rest.

The day broke with gray cloud cover, though those thin patches of blue have now evolved into a brilliant blue sky with white puffy snowballs of clouds, very similar to the way the storm system eventually broke up earlier this week while camping on Phipps Lake. I expect stars again tonight 🙂

Now, I am popping chocolate coffee beans and water, a fun substitute for an afternoon brew.  I may move to the point as the view there is quite sweeping, the breeze there refreshing, the waters lapping. I had thought this nook might be more private, which it is, but it is quite warm here, tucked away from the afternoon breeze.

There is a great root/trunk of a grand old tree washed up and graying on the sandy beach around the corner from this point. She must’ve been stunning! I also noted empty mussel shells on that beach, and a turd on this point. Perhaps some otters have been visiting here. Now, a merganser paddles by.

ON the portage from Big Porcupine into Ragged Lake, three baby bears were treed over my head. I was carrying the canoe at the time, but the young couple who were carrying in the opposite direction were wide eyed at the sight of them. No sign of the momma was to be found.

Now I observe a young human family, arriving on the campsite opposite us, the children scurrying up the bank with enthusiasm, checking out their home in the woods. Earlier, two adolescent boys down the lake, paddled across the water to find firewood for their evening campfire. Now their axe echoes the labor of their preparing it. It does fill my heart -with gladness to witness these families out here, and, as always, with longing to share this place with my own.

Ah. Such joy, such beauty, such aliveness, such wonder. I found myself feeling sad when paddling out of Bonnechere this morning, as always I do on the last morning. I must admit, though, that I am ready for someone else to prepare me a cup of coffee, a meal, and a soft bed. It will feel good to be pampered at the Bed and Breakfast we have booked for tomorrow evening.

Now, I believe I shall indeed move to the point, take up my Sigurd book, immerse my self a few more times before this trip is over in the beauty of his words, so fitting for the beauty of this place.

Coda. August 8

It’s been over a week since we left the park. As I recall, I got Don down on that point with me later in the evening, after a dusk paddle around the northeastern bays of Ragged Lake. From that jutting granite peninsula we watched the sky unfold its evening garments of color, then mantle of stars, Don’s arms wrapped around my waist as I leaned back into his body.

We were on the water the next morning by 7, and at the north end of Smoke Lake by 8:30, the winds already blowing briskly by then. We were grateful for the early start. After loading our gear into the car, we headed to the Portage Store for ‘breakfast and a show’, overlooking the livery of canoes being doled out to the eager and naïve alike.

We then visited the Art Museum, where I was one again taken by the work on exhibit there, and the Visitor Centre. Then, on to the outfitter, where a new set of gunnels for our Souris River canoe had been dropped off, and a quick visit with Erin before we finally headed south to Gananoque.

By this time, Don was in excruciating pain, once again. It seems that he let down his guard perhaps? when he went back into his regular shoes during our day’s explorations. I am saddened and confused that he is hurting. This healing is surely taking a very long time.

 

 

healing waters- part 3

Tuesday afternoon, July 25, Bonnechere Lake

The day yesterday continued to be blustery with driven rain, never really letting up completely except for a brief spell after lunch, when we momentarily considered packing up camp, as we’d spotted two other parties traveling and wondered if they might be warmer than we were, sitting there in the cold and raw conditions. In the end, we chose to stay, a wise decision it turned out to be as the rains picked up in earnest soon thereafter, blowing from the east.

For my body’s sake, though, I needed some movement, and I went in search of firewood that might be split to find some dry insides. After helping me with the chopping and splitting, I persuaded Don to paddle me back to that bay behind the first campsite, where I had discovered the berry patches earlier in the week. My plan was to pick enough to bake into a bannock over the fire I’d hoped to build with that split wood.

OF course, the conditions worsened as soon as we hit the water. Don tried to fish again as I gleaned the berries, but, quickly, he got quite wet and cold. I was fairly soaked as well, mostly from the wet foliage brushing my legs, though my new rain jacket performed quite admirably .

The fire was such a mood lifter, warmth to ease the chill and dry our dampness. The mac and beef dinner was super yummy, perhaps more so because of the open fire cooking, no cozying this meal. The dinner warmed our bellies as the fire had warmed our spirits and our flesh. The baked bannock I tucked into the barrel for a quick breakfast in the morning, as we hoped to make an early start the next day, rain or shine.

This morning dawned with a blue sky! Two full days of raw rain are quite enough and I found myself singing ‘Good morning Starshine’, a song that often rises in me on these trips. As we had agreed ,we were up by 6 and on the water by 8. Paddling past the first campsite on the lake, we noticed some movement. We’d watched that party paddle in late last night, hoping that they weren’t destined for the site upon which we were camped, as we didn’t actually have a permit for this lake last evening.  We were relieved when they made a bee line for the other site. Really, for most people that site is the prime one; it just wasn’t right for us this time.

Soon enough, we were on Bonnechere Lake, paddling past the campsite that straddles it and Cradle Lake, where we’d heard the wolves so nearby on that magical, misty morning last fall. Unoccupied this morning, we decided we’d prefer this time one of the sites at the southern end of the lake, all 3 of which we felt were quite nice and believing that the mosquitos might be quite intense this time of year at that Cradle site.  When we reached the south side though, we were surprised to find all 3 sites occupied. Since the morning was early (9 o’clock) we chose to wait for the possibility of one of them clearing.  We ditched our gear on a rocky point in an eastern bay to take the canoe exploring down a wetland creek. That creek led to a much smaller lake, Head Lake, where we thought we would spend the morning fishing, then lunching upon her shores. A private oasis kind of day we had in mind.

We were able to paddle about half the distance to that lake before the stream became impassable, and so we ditched the canoe too and hoofed it the rest of the way. As it turned out, we walked a lot farther than we’d planned, as the lake proper was quite a distance beyond where the waterway reopened.  When we return to this place another time, I will carry the canoe across that spit of land.  Doing so would give us access to the entire lake. The bushwacking through the woods was hard work, but we made it!! Unfortunately, the fishing from that wilder shoreline wasn’t great and both of us got our lures caught on the logs and rocks on the shallow lake bottom there.

When we returned to Bonnechere, two of the sites remained occupied. We suspect it is one large party of young people. They are a bit louder than we’ve grown accustomed to, having been mostly alone for the week, but they are enjoying Algonquin too!  (we later learned that one of the sites was being used by a pair of park rangers, who had been dropped there by float plane, camping in the park for 2 weeks as they performed trail and campsite maintenance) So, we grabbed the third southern site, both of us fairly exhausted from the day’s excursions. What a surprising find this is, as we had once dismissed this campsite as less-than. What we hadn’t realized then was that there is a perfect landing around the corner in a small protected cove, and a nice path leading into the campsite proper from there. A good reminder for me to look deeper than surface impressions.

There are pleasing viewscapes from various vantage points along the length of this site, including the long projecting granite point, covered in lichen and blueberries, with its requisite sentinel pine. Perhaps tonight at last we will have our star gazing delight.

But now, Don and I are resting on the rocks directly in front of the camp, having chosen to rest and refuel for a bit before setting up camp. My feet are refreshed at the water’s edge, the sun is soothing my tired muscles, and my eyes are nourished by a momma loon, fishing for her baby’s lunch, slowly encircling the perimeter of our perch. She dives for a fish as the young one watches from above, ducking his head beneath the surface of the water until she emerges with a morsel for him.

I think the kids next door are packing up now, so perhaps the evening will be quiet after all. I am grateful for this day with Don.

Later,

In the shade of a large cedar I rest, the sun on the west facing rocks at the edge of the water having grown too intense for me. It is quiet. Low lying cumulous clouds retreat into the notch on the horizon. A soft breeze caresses. The only sound comes from a few flies buzzing, occasionally, nearby. Now the gulls call. This morning it was Thrush, who awakened me from my sleep, her song persistent, incorporated completely into my dreams as she roused me gently.

Ah, this view is so very intoxicating, entirely more so than the shot of rum I put into my afternoon drink.  This sky so very blue, that sunlight sparkling on gently rippling waters, this curve of the land. I am grateful for shade, for breeze, for water, for beauty. For this.

 

Wednesday morning, July 26, Bonnechere Lake, granite point of campsite, from which a trillion stars struck me dumb with wonder last evening.

We’d stayed awake to be with the starry array, as it was the first clear day and evening since early in this trip, when we were so tired we’d gone early to the tent. Don was fairly physically exhausted last evening, again, after the day of bushwacking, and was not able to remain long with me here even last night. I understand now that his stamina and strength are diminished and accept that as part of our relationship, something to love. As the years progress, I imagine that will only become more prominent. If I am to remain in loving, which I must, I shall have to learn to let go. Perhaps I am coming face to face with aging for the first time in my life. Don is much more than his physical body. This is perhaps what we all eventually realize as our bodies decline and fail. Our identity no longer can come from our physicality, thank Godde.

Later,

Again, I gathered blueberries, handfuls of them, plump and ripe, upon each plant, the picking so much more fruitful than a few days ago. Afterward, I collected firewood as Don split a few larger pieces. We baked pancakes on the silicone sheet I’d brought to trial. I learned that the fire needs to be quite a bit hotter than I’d imagined – either a bank of coals or higher flames, which is what I landed upon in the end, this morning. The silicone held nicely, yet I am not at all certain the entire process was any more efficient or expedient than cooking them one at a time in our small skillet.

We took a short day trip, up the length of Bonnechere again and into her other arm and across the liftover to beautiful Cradle Lake, those protective rock cliffs protecting her deep blue waters. We paddled the short length toward the larches that crowd her northern bay, where the portage to Plough Lake begins. The portage trail was quite primitive and overgrown, perhaps seldom used as it leads to a long thread of small lakes with no campsites. The walk was quite lovely as a result, the ‘path’ lined with solomon’s seal, bunchberry, and blue-beaded lily. There was a great old pine along the way and the largest turkey tail fungus I have ever seen, 18 inches across, on the trunk of a fallen giant. We lunched on the opposite end of the portage tail, a mucky landing overlooking a bay of little Plough Lake. Fortunately the mosquitos, for some reason, abated long enough for us to eat.

On the way back through Cradle we exited on the opposite shoreline, carrying the canoe across the campsite there that straddles the span between Cradle and Bonnechere, exploring there for a bit. That spot really could accommodate a relatively large group. I am dreaming again of bringing my sons and their daughters….

Now, I am tucked beneath the billowing tarp, flapping as it is in these returning gusts. I have spent some time tweaking the tarp here and there so that it might offer more of a windbreak, though I don’t know how much warmth we can muster beneath it with these windy conditions. Perhaps it will be an early to bed evening. I am more tired than I typically am. Perhaps that late night under those intoxicating stars. Ha.

I think for now I shall put down my journal, stop fussing with nylon tarps and redundant words and be here for a while, watching the slicing rain, listening to the patter, the gusts, and the occasional song of persistent bird or frog. Close my eyes. Be here now.

Night in the tent.

It is 9:30pm. I am feeling quite a bit better than earlier in the evening. The winds and rain blew cold and raw before they let up. My tummy and head was stirred up too. Fortunately a hot dinner helped with both and soon thereafter the storm system blew over as well. We were able to wash our dishes and close up camp in ‘dry’ weather, after which I made myself a cup of hot fennel tea to take with a few Tylenol.

Soon the sky began to put on a fabulous display. For over an hour, we basked in that beauty, as low lying clouds rolled away, revealing layer upon layer of thin clouds overhead, upon which the setting sun projected her light. From fiery oranges and reds through to fuchsias and pinks, peaches and golds, purples and dusky mauves, the colors flowed, unfolded, and flowered. In the waters below, reflecting so exquisitely that brilliance, a lone loon floated, as if she were also basking in that beauty.  No human made light display could begin to compare.

Don and I stood in silence for long moments, blessed by that beauty. I thought to myself that the earth could offer me no more perfect apology for the physical discomforts of the day than such a parting pageantry. And still. Everything belongs. Everything is beauty. (another song that I find myself singing here)

Tucked into the tent now, I note the gusting winds again, perhaps the tail of that dragon, but perhaps it is not yet ready to depart. Either way, I shall sleep peacefully, secure in the shelter of this tiny tent. I hope that loon is also hunkered down securely somewhere, safe in her nest, as am I. And now, to fall asleep to this lullaby of sound, winds in the pines, water lapping the shoreline, my husband’s breathing beside me.

 

healing waters – part 2

Plunging back into my journals from summer 2017, Algonquin. For part one of this entry, see Healing Waters

Saturday evening, July 22, Phipp’s Lake, campsite #2

Yes, we moved into the ‘house next door’. After fishing the rear bay this morning (no luck), we returned to camp for a breakfast of bacon and cinnamon buns (also a failure). It seems nothing was rising this morning. Several small groups paddled by as we ate breakfast, perched on a rock on the east side of the island, to which we’d bushwacked a bit for the view.

Back in the bay for some exploration after breakfast, Don dropped me on the far shoreline, where earlier I’d taken notice of a skinny trail into the bush, heading in the direction of the isolated body of water I’d noted on the map. Over the ridge, again I bushwacked my way down to a pristine spruce bog pond. The peat and moss mat was thick, alive with pitcher plant and blueberries, laurel and leatherleaf. The earth alternately crunched then sponged beneath my feet.

On my way back to the bay, where Don was waiting/fishing, I gathered handfuls of berries, popping them into my mouth as I went. Back in the canoe, we paddled around past our campsite to explore the second of the two sites on this lake, because, though I’d been certain that the one we’d landed upon yesterday would be perfect, I was surprisingly dissatisfied there.

So, despite Don’s reservations about moving camp, here we are on this site, high above the water, with the most spectacular views, though decidedly less friendly in terms of access and level ground. Everything is uphill here, quite significantly so, but of course, that is also what makes it so wonderful! 

We packed up everything and transported it here, including the wash line with my freshly laundered clothes (they smell fabulous now after a day in the wind and the sun!) and our pile of sticks for the stove. The cooking fire/ kitchen leaves a lot to be desired, with one small log upon which to sit, and it was difficult to find a level spot for the tent, not to mention the granite just beneath the thin layer of duff, making the placement of stakes a bit ‘hard’.  I know, it must make you scratch your head, too, but the negatives are so easily overlooked with this breathtaking overlook. Upon the ridge facing west, we are currently propped in our crazy creek chairs, soaking in that long alpine view. Seated in front of the netting we hung from the tarp, we are ready to retreat when the dusk barrage of mosquitos swarms.

Don and I tried fishing once again, trolling the length of the lake and back, after dinner. Again, with no luck. Of course, the hour we chose was the only time all day that the wind rose, and we were certain a storm was blowing in. But now the lake is still as glass, though the sky remains heavy with those clouds that were rolling in with the after-dinner blow.

The wood frogs croak their raspy rattle, the thrush picks up her evening flute, the loon calls out for her mate, and the mosquitos begin to drone.

Today, I felt the shift. No longer in a rush to get here, it feels as if we have arrived – in slow time, in presence, in companionship and rhythm, a rhythm that feels more natural between us than it has in a very long time.

Sunday, July 23, Phipp’s Lake, 6:30pm

The rain began overnight and has continued throughout this morning and afternoon, a steady rain, though not heavy, most often light showers. So, we kept to our plan to explore Kirkwood, Pardee, and Lawrence Lakes today. We had originally thought to move to Pardee today, but Don was uncertain about that with his ankle when we were making the reservation, so we decided to make it a day trip instead. 

The 715 meter portage into Lawrence was a muck mess, much different than I had recalled from last fall, which made it quite a bit more challenging with the canoe on my shoulders. Still, I am glad that I could carry it, because it opened so much more exploration to us. That campsite on Pardee Lake is a delight, as is the one on the far end of Lawrence Lake, which we’d bypassed last year by mistake, the wind deceiving us so.

Back now on the rocks overlooking Phipps lake, the clouds have not given up their hold on the sky, though it has not rained since we left Pardee @3:30 this afternoon. I am hopeful that they will clear before dark, The starry nightscape, for which I long, awaits beneath their cover.

I was fairly tired when we returned to camp, having carried the canoe 1500 meters today, especially since we’d gotten such a late start on our day, with the rainy morning convincing us to linger a while longer in our tent, listening to the patter on the roof. Breakfast was also a longer todo, with preparing it under the tarp, though we greatly appreciated the view from that perch, reinforcing again our decision to move here.

Now the breeze caresses my face as the waters lap the shoreline, each a pleasing sensation. The water today is much warmer than the air, which is surprisingly chilly for the end of July. This breeze from the east makes it so. There was even some convection fog as we returned to camp this afternoon. I have donned my heavy fleece for the evening, even though it is still rather young.

Monday, July 24, Phipp’s Lake

We are huddled beneath the tarp, pulled to the ground on the east wall to block the cold blasts of wind-driven rain. It is cozy enough and the view is still pleasing, even or perhaps especially in this gray.

The rains began again in earnest in the wee hours of the morning, intermittent at first, but by the time morning dawned fairly steady with occasional down pours. For a time, between showers, I had the tent door open to watch the water and sky, the air blowing in quite refreshing when curled beneath my down quilt. I was awake for the day by 5:30am but remained in the tent, listening to the rain and the wind before (human) nature urged me to venture forth. Fortunately for me, there was lull enough in the weather to fashion a cozier shelter by shoring up the tarp and to gather the things I would need for breakfast preparation beneath it before these hard driving rains began.

And so, I sat in the silence for quite some time, watching the sheets of rain blow down the lake, the windrows and ripples form and reform on its surface, the swirls of fog be picked up at cast into whirlpools of mist, the sky and the water one continuous element.

For a time, during the lighter showers of the morning, there were 2 birds, waxwing-like in appearance, snatching up blueberries on the bank beneath my feet. Last evening, we watched the dragonfly over this same embankment swirling and diving, snatching her own meal of evening mosquitos. She danced her food-gathering patterns for fifteen minutes or so before moving along. It was, for us, ensconced behind that bug netting,  like having front row seats at the ballet.

We are supposed to move camp today, just an hour’s paddle back from here . We will do so if the weather breaks, perhaps later, this afternoon, though we are not very good at all predicting such things. Usually it is more wishful thinking that convinces us of clearing weather more so than what our eyes see. If the weather remains this blustery, we shall stay put, move tomorrow, as we have the luxury of flexibility. It is always more pleasant to pack up camp and set up again when conditions and gear are both dry, though moving about does help a body’s warmth!! Who’d have guessed a down sweater atop my fleece in July.

Things feel well between Don and me. He does continue to struggle with walking, even around camp, tripping often and having great difficulty with the inclines of this site- the cost of this fabulous vista. I so appreciate his willingness to be here with me. He has even begun dreaming of future trips. I don’t believe a person begins dreaming if it is not something they hope for. Still, I know that he comes here for me. He told me yesterday that he ‘really does want me to be happy, after all.’

As I lay watching him sleep, even there, I can begin to see his aging, in the lines around his eyes. We may have only a few years of this. I must be able to live in the joy and beauty of this moment without clinging to it so tightly, be willing to let go when it must die. I note the grief in me at this, even as I accept this truth.

Who knows? Perhaps I will go before him.

There is only now, this breath, this view, this conversation, this chill in my toes, these trees, who stand in this great silence, witness to and giver of life long after I am gone, these ancient rocks, this perpetual recycling of water and sky, this thirsty earth.

 

 

 

belovedness, revisited, again, for as many times as it takes

I awakened this morning smiling, remembering who I am, not unlike waking after a morning of falling in love, except the Love I have fallen into is my own.  Truthfully, it feels a bit disorienting, except in a reverse sort of way, as if I have been wandering confusedly in a barren and alien landscape, looking for something I believed I was missing, outside of myself, and now I am dwelling deeply within a lush landscape of bounty.

It makes me wonder how I got so lost in that search, trapped, believing that who I am is to be found outside of myself, within some identity or purpose or ‘doing’.  I do trust that the wandering deserts of my life are as vital to my soul’s journey of becoming as is this lush land of lakes, both essential legs in this spiraling (no way is it linear) life-death-life journey. I understand the necessity of traversing and exploring the dark, shadowy realms – realms I seem to be thrust into, never willingly enter- in order to reclaim pieces of my wholeness. But still, it seems I completely forgot some important truths about myself while I wandered there, and came to accept some decidedly harmful and diminishing ones in their place. I was a LONG time in that dark night, unable to hear her affirming voice of Love.

I can see in some ways how it was that I was searching for Love in all the wrong places, waking up in the wrong bed – not at all lying in the arms of one who honored the particular and unique sacredness of my soul. Gazing at my reflection in that shadowy bedroom mirror, was like seeing myself in the walls of a funhouse, my image distorted, reflecting to me brokenness where there is Beauty. Those refracting mirrors remain in my life, unable to see past superficial measures of value, and so what has been validated has been my shame, my feelings of inadequacy, my not-good-enoughnesses. Caught in measurements of beauty that have to do with the dominant cultural assessments of worth, I have discounted and diminished my very dignity.

Here, a wiser mirror, a handheld one perhaps, one that beholds at the level of soul,  is helping me to appreciate who I am. Other totems I’d misplaced are also here in this lush landscape – this enduring Vision of Goodness, that encompassing Knowledge of Love within All, this noble Quality of Soul, that Voice, whispering in my dreams, ‘You are Bound to Beauty’. Valuable pieces I’d discarded in deference to trinkets of quasi-belonging. And, of course, this Diamond I’ve been carrying, the one I’d thought was a rock tethered to my ankle.  Each one – the mirror, the diamond, the totems, now tucked into my medicine bag, along with those Golden Scissors given to me by Her. These I will tie about my neck to protect my heart from harm.

Finally, in the center of this woodland grows my Belovedness, fully mature and developed. That dried seed, deposited so long ago, the last time I traversed this way, is rooted and vibrant, thriving and strong. In blossom, here She is, planted where she would surely bloom. I’ll look forward to tasting her fruit.

 

to love and to honor from this day forward

There is a scene in the 1990’s remake of Miracle on 34th street, in which the girl-child, setting her unhappy mother straight about her disbelief, quite succinctly states, ‘I’m very sorry mother, you have it perfectly wrong’. It’s a favorite line for me.

Something like that happened to me today. Similar words, twice, from my soul to my self, setting me straight about the delusion I have been under, a delusion that has been causing me undue shame and despair.

All of these years, I have been believing my real life was on hold, awaiting my arrival after that huge detour that I took, when I was in truth living! Growing and becoming, expressing and embodying.  Authentically so. I got caught in the cultural(ego) trap, which dictates that certain accomplishments or ways of being are more worthy than others, so often in perverse proportion to their actual value.

First came a little morning validation. That always helps, especially when the usual mirrors in your life have no way of seeing because your experience is outside their range. Yes, this mirror reflected, what you have done, in fact what you are doing is HARD! And it is REAL. And it is a LOT. And you have performed it with the fullness of your flawed humanity, which, by the way, also includes grace, resilience, love, nobility, courage, perseverance, patience, compassion, and presence alongside that fumbling inadequacy and weariness.

That validation was followed by a good afternoon dose of soul truth revealed in the pages of a book that fell from the shelf onto my lap. Expecting to find myself indicted in its pages, and therefore in need of a lot of remediation and retrieval of what had been lost or stolen, I was struck once again by the whispered dignity and integrity of what i had labeled as less-than and broken.

After your many years of performing your (role) , you’ve not only mastered a form, but more importantly, you’ve acquired a deep-rooted familiarity with what your soul qualities feel like as they pour forth from you. On countless occasions you have observed your soul powers at work in the world. you saw the ways your best efforts affected others, how you changed the lives and experiences of people, perhaps how you shifted the collective field, or how certain human or natural habitats were rendered more wild, diverse, or vital. In these ways, you’ve acquired a nuanced feel for the results that your soul desires.  Now, (in the next stage of your life) you will engender those kinds of results regardless of how you get there, and often enough you in fact no longer know how you’ll get there. – Bill Plotkin

As I received the deep blessing of my life in these words, something healed in me. as if I recognized myself for the first time. That dim mirror wiped clean for a moment of the fog that covers it over, I could see clearly how it is that each role, each stage of my being HAS been infused with my soul. A soul that yearns for each human and non-human in this place to be received as beauty, to be valued, to know its original goodness; a soul that desires for each one to be, not only allowed, but encouraged to be uniquely and authentically who she/he/ki is because he/she/ki is breathtakingly vital; a soul that longs for the girl to know she is vibrant and the boy to know he is love, for women to know they are beloved sisters, for all to know they are sacred; a soul that longs for the earth to be wild with the gifts of blossom and fruit, beauty and bounty, and for humans to have a real place in that wildly mutual gifting.

My life has been spent nurturing and protecting the preciousness of life, and ‘perfecting this delivery system’ for whatever is next, the way of which will open before me, and into which my soul will infuse its gifts.  This time of my life is not at all about casting off stones, but carrying forward the diamond that has been honed by a life well lived.

 

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