sand hill crone

Sand hill crane, Lake Duffy, photo @ PennLive.com

I have hiked some distance, perhaps a mile from where I parked the car to this spot, stopping for a short visit along the way near the remains of an old ice dam that once formed the lake It has been good to watch the lake’s evolution, or should I say devolution, over these past few years. No longer needed for the making of ice, the stone and earth dam was allowed to deteriorate, the water to flow, and the lake to revert to a wetland. Several new duck boxes, their freshly cut pine boards in bleached contrast to the late winter browns of the native habitat, have been erected in anticipation of winged ones who now regularly call this place home for the summer. This afternoon there were few signs of life yet. I’d heard that a stray sandhill crane had found her way there for a few weeks. Much colder than I anticipated, I was forced to leave my perch, to get up and move. Maybe she decided the same.

I’ve often walked past this particular sink where I now sit, been drawn to it so many times, frequently snapping photographs, which never seemed to capture what I saw through my own lenses, from the trail. Today I decided to leave the tamed tracks behind, to bushwack a bit, in order to visit more closely. Strangely, its much warmer here. Perhaps these steep banks protect me from the subtle but chilling breezes, or perhaps the wind has simply stepped back at dusk’s approach.

I sit on a great moss-covered rock, next to the old fallen trees, reddened by the stripping of bark and rotting of pulp, which span the ravine, . The earth is red here too, maybe from so many fallen before them. The silt in the stream bed is red. The rock is red.

As my eyes wander upstream, I am surprised by a culvert I’d never noticed before, so close to the main trail, but completely hidden from view from above. Beautifully crafted of the same red rock, it is a remnant of old railroading days no doubt. Even more startling are those 2 bentwood rockers, faded from seasons, gazing down at me from atop. Others have cherished this spot. I must be near to someone’s property, though there is no structure in sight and my vision reaches quite far through the leafless landscape.

Suddenly, I am aware of how noisy it is here – planes overhead, traffic nearby, and some incessant rumbling over the ridge – highway, farm machinery, or industry, I cannot say. The trickle of water alone soothes me, water that flows when ice is no longer need, water that, over time, breaks down manmade dams, water that is granted underground passageways, water that carries red earth to some unseen delta, water that causes the earth itself to sink and trees to collapse, creating a place of warmth and great beauty……

I am so fearful of these changing landscapes of mine. Fearful of repercussions. Fearful of potential grief, fearful of loneliness, fearful of unhappiness. I wonder if I am compromising again and then I wonder if I even know what I want well enough to know when I am being compromised. Change is so frightening, I expect most of us wait for it to happen TO us. To embrace it, to be its active agent – not codependently its accomplice, nor passively its victim, nor passive-aggressively its agent, but to freely choose it – is more frightening than I’d imagined it would be.

Courage, conviction, energy, passion and trust all are required, but love is vital. Again, I must return to center, to heart – to desire. What IS the desire that draws me, not forces me but is also  not something that I force.  Let the time to push come naturally as it will with all births. I must return often to dwell in this place of  quieter hope and deeper desire. This is the place from which will flow my strength, my passion, my energy to create a new life.

Desire, of course, leads to the creation of new life every time! Of course, maybe that’s what I’m truly afraid of! How do I prevent this new lifeform from swallowing me up, taking on a life of its own, being stolen from me or, conversely, drowning me? How do I attend to my desire without losing my self? I suspect the answer to these is to keep my self, and my heartful intent, fully IN it. Perhaps the desire is in truth to find my self. May this birth be one that comes from such a desire.

Have the previous births in my life been at all about being sensitive to my own desire, or were they simply more of the same taking-care-of/sensitivity to the expectations and needs of the other at my own expense. Oh, perhaps there is no such thing as pure desire and uncompromised love. So many births, very good births, have come from far less pure exchanges of energy – along the whole spectrum from apathy to violence. Seeds are carried and fall on fertile soil as much by accident as by intent.

My virginal self wasn’t filled with desire to have sex, she was filled with desire to be loved, and, taking care of the needs of another, her physical body got her the love she desired so desperately, at least that’s what she’d thought. So young, that’s why she had been so confused about contraception, about barriers/boundaries of any kind. Contraception made it about sex in her mind, took her completely out of her desire for love(-making). Her insistent desire for pure union was wise, though naive and misdirected. Union of body AND soul, of outer and inner, is what she desired though she sold out for something far less.

Some say the crone is the second coming of the virgin (virgin meaning a woman WHOLE unto herself, her integrity intact), except with the added wisdom of experience–fuller consiousness, clearer seeing, and knowing herself and her giftedness. Clarissa understands the crone as akin to a hardened off tree, her wisdom grown solid to protect the soft heartwood, creating an intact boundary within and from which life-giving nourishment might flow. I’m wondering if this directs the course of the flow – like a culvert built below the surface of an ice dam above left to crumble – so the harmful flows out and the goodness flows in, but also so the goodness flows out to the branches and fruits while keeping enough nourishment for self inside. I like to imagine that trickle at work within me, slowly, steadily carving a place of beauty and depth for all of those years when something atop was frozen and flat, homogenous and tamed.

Perhaps the direction of flow from this new place of desire is not about need-to-be-loved-and-accepted, but longing to live and to love fully, authentically, in a place of union between my inner self and my outward expression. Perhaps listening deeply to this quiet place–here, beneath the noise– will make it possible to hold space for my own ‘deep gladness’ without being flooded by the world’s great need, while still offering a naturally flowing, rich nourishment.

Perhaps this is the way a life becomes a habitat.

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