East meets west

Each day that I arrive at this place, I notice a change from the day before. On the far ridge, subtle oranges sidle up next to the yellows. An occasional red punctuates the palette. Closer, the meadow is losing color fast . Only a few leaves of yellow cling, here and there, though the monarch still hopes for nectar. The traffic from the distant highway feels louder today. Closer, the crickets continue their canticle.

Is there more clarity? or less?

Yesterday’s torrential rains did not leave this hillside drenched, as I’d imagined, though this cold of mine still leaves me feeling utterly drained. The breeze picks up the corner of the page, softens my gaze, gives young yellow poplars an opportunity to flicker.

I continue to invite guests – a small bee alights on the tip of my pen, a common house fly lands on the empty page, a miniscule black bug explores its edge.

The light suddenly brightens the golden treetops on the ridge nearer me, giving them a moment to shimmer, while the ones behind are cast to shadow. (Already that moment has passed). That same golden light pauses for a moment on my hand, warming it. As quickly a breeze chases it away.

I feel the chill.

What if there is nothing hiding in the darkness of that western front? No soul to retrieve, no sacred expression awaiting a voice, no voice with which to sing.

Into that densely packed thicket of spindly saplings and suckers, filling in for the devastation left behind after the consumption, I wander. Thorns and brambles grasp my clothes, as if to somehow keep me out by clinging to me. In the darkness, I discover mother roots, stumps with 8 or 10 suckers rising from their bases like proverbial phoenixes. I explore a great old stump, moist and spongy, trace the striations that once were the rivers of her life- carrying moisture and sunlight, minerals and sap – flowing season after season from leaf to root and back.  Eroded roots, no longer able to hold onto the soil, become soil. I wonder at the nourishment of death and decay, how it differs from the nourishment of fruit and seed. One is taken up, the other taken in, both transformed into a new body.

Strange that this is where my eye was drawn to beauty, that this is where my heart decided to come to rest.  This place where I am, in one breath, filled with rage and despair, hope and delight. This piece of land is not pretty, but is beautiful. The wake of destruction unearths a terribly broken and irresponsible relationship here, and at the same time , reveals the potent tenacity of life, its ability to forgive, to rejuvenate, to create abundantly, to flower and fruit.

I cannot fix this, as I could pretend to do on the 1/4 acre plot of earth that I clumsily but lovingly tried to give back to its wilder self by transplanting the ‘native’ plants that I thought would be life-giving.  No, this is so much bigger than me. This calls for a different set of eyes, for a being in communion with, in love with, not a doing-to. I cannot choose what will grow here.

I wander farther down the path, past the visible line where the decimation was halted, just beyond the new meadow and the scrappy thicket. Here are trunks as large around as the sawn off one who offers me a place to pray. I marvel at the presence of their soaring heights and something comes home in me. I breathe in the change in the air and the chaos in me dissolves. Even the understory here is golden, radiant. This is how it would feel, if not for moths and men.

 

This is in me too. What is the understory here?

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  1. Trackback: healing | Emmaatlast's Weblog

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M.C. Reardon

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