“physical-ecological and the mental-emotional-social cannot be separated… we can make ourselves whole, only when we make our lands, and towns and villages, and our environment whole as well…" Christopher Alexander
In search of fresh moving water, I drove about 20 miles out of town to a place called Brackett Creek. There are several trails between here and there, and though it’s not the grandest one, it’s the one that called.
I’d just gotten an email from one of my dearest friends, telling me she has cancer. She’s across the world so I cannot physically stand with her in the coming moments, and though she may move through this with ease, I cannot know if I will see her again in this lifetime.
The weather here was kind of cold, rainy and I had many other things I should be doing to catch up and to get ahead… but something deeper reached out and said, ...Go do this. Now...
So I left Brian to work on the book, Yoshi to have opinions out the window, and drove through the rain to a place I’d never been before for a reason I couldn’t name.
Passing by snow tipped mountains and countless evergreens, rolling hills with brightly colored wildflowers scattered about as if the wind had blown seeds to bloom in all the perfect places, I wondered how life had gotten so busy that I missed all this.
The trail is the out-and-back sort that curves around and climbs with an elevation gain of around 1700 feet. A guy clad in protective gear crossed the creek bridge and began the climb on a motorbike at about the same time a couple came down with walking sticks. The mud was pretty thick, and I’d really come for the water, so I made a note to return with Brian on a sunnier day.
Water here moves quickly this time of year, and though it’s a shallow creek, I could see straight to the bottom every place I looked. The water moved over and around the rocks, swirling and rolling over itself before moving on… always in motion…
And something about this quieted the deep sadness I felt. I was reminded of her strength, of how much she has done in her lifetime. No matter what happens in her country, her community, her body, she keeps moving with an attitude of grace and honor and play. There is no distance between her and the thousands of lives she has touched, the wide age range of voices she has coaxed and coached through the years. A wild intelligence and gorgeous presence. She changed my life forever when we met.
Watching the water, I was reminded of all this and more that words cannot encompass…
I saw a rock, tawny and thin, a perfect oval and without hesitation I walked into the fast moving water to get it. Holding the cold stone in my hand, I whispered a blessing to her, before returning it to the stream. I found another to take along with me, so no matter how busy my days may be, I remember to send her love.
I was gone for just a little while, but enough to recalibrate my inner compass.
All the things I thought I had to do today shifted, as I listened larger. The length of the to-do list hadn’t changed, but the weight of it had. Things got done. More than I anticipated, perhaps because I felt whole… not just in my own being, but with those I love who are far away, and with the place I live.
Gentle alignment from life giving places.
always in motion,