Gnarled

Photo by Noëlle — At Garden of the Gods

I stare at its gnarled and boney presence. Ripped up by its roots, bent away from it’s natural form and twisted into something barely recognizable as tree in the psyche.

Many still have leaves green and thriving at their tips. Life tenaciously holding on whilst facing winds so brutal nothing holds shape against them. It takes years of wind and water and baking sun to create such beauty. I look at the image closely, pondering the story that lies in every turned branch. Graceful, elegant are words that arise, even as the limbs seem tortured in their present form.

Photo by Noëlle— At Garden of the Gods

I look upon the hands that hold the image between them. I feel a shift of feeling here. Root-like veins cross the knuckles, age spots and deep creases over crepe like skin cover the bone structure. My fingers rise to touch the wrinkles at my eyes and mouth. Many years of wind, water and sun, metaphorically and literally, have weathered this form, too. Why do I, and so many others, not see the same beauty here. I see my reflection in the smart tablet screen. Do I see and experience the same grace and elegance as that moment on the trail?

Photo by Noëlle— Hand[/caption]

Photos by Noëlle— Hand

I look back at the images. Remember the feeling of magic and delight as I stepped into their presence along the red stone path. Felt the good fortune to see them with my eyes first, and then now, enjoying them again in a photograph. No wondering, just instantaneous recognition of something beautiful before me.

Photo by Noëlle— Garden of the Gods

Can I translate that to my own body now? Can I step into the presence of my aging process that looks back at me in the mirror and see how gnarled, bent, stretched, twisted life has made me and delight in the sudden discovery. Know it is beauty, not decay. See it as persistent life, thriving against all odds, rather than life slowly destroyed by time? Feel the grace of me, as instantaneously, as upon the trail?

The tree spoke of no sorrow or loss, as I stood before it. I know this. My other senses, those beyond my five standard issue senses — tell me I’d feel their suffering if they felt pain in their change and loss. Something in me knows this to be a deep truth. They live in the world, as it is and become what each moment brings to them. Bending to what is, rather than fighting against it. In this way, I see now that the grace and elegance I experience looking upon them in their gnarled form, is as much from their bending with the present moment, than just mere form.

Phot by Noëlle— Garden of the Gods

I can feel the world. I can feel it’s pulse and it’s movements. I can sense it’s shifts and it’s tides. I am more kin to the natural world, than I realize. Like so many, I am often lulled into a detached sleep from the natural evolution of all things by canned air, computer screens, shoe soles and walls.

Photo by Noëlle— Garden of the. Gods

I wish to return to this level of awareness. To be present to the weathering my path offers me. And in that presence, experience the beauty of my own changes — bent, twisted, bleached of all that was me — and know this as grace. I want to remember the wisdom that is inside of me, that is like the trees. Knows there is only what is here now and to bend to it. Allow it to shape me and alter my structure. Allow time and space to bring me into a new form that may have no appearance of it’s former self, yet is something that has become fresh and beautiful. Something so alive and tenacious that even faced with the elements of my own time on this Earth, I grow leaves of love, light and hope at the edges of all that I am.

If you enjoyed this piece, I’d be honored if you checked out my larger body of writing in my book “Into Your Meditation” at the link below or on the upper right hand corner of this blog site.

Welcome Ravished Guests

State Beach, Block Island

Low Tide, Block Island, photo by Noelle

The surf comes slow and steady, lapping quietly only a few feet away, and never desists. She seems a persistent child, playfully pulling me ever further away from my thoughts. I match my breathe to her comings and goings, at first a difficult task. I am full of the busyness of life at work and the chaos of travel. Yet, after a time, she in her great depths and I in my shallowness upon the beach become one. My muscles sink deeply into the sand, as I rest motionless upon the towel.

Tide's Arrival

State Beach, Block Island photo by Noelle

At mid-morning, the beach is not yet busy, and the gull’s calls are distinct from the din that comes with afternoon beach goers. I open one eye and see a large gray-breasted gull inching toward me. He is surveying for any booty to steal, pirate thief that he is. His beak nods dismissively, as he finds nothing and walks on down the beach. I find a sudden longing that he stay awhile longer. He speaks to me of sea and sky, salt and sand.

The ocean laps, my eye closes and the meditation drops deeper still.

Private

Beach Access, photo by Noelle

There is no effort in this sort of meditation.

The Earth and sea work on me, as they have on the driftwood that litters the beach around me. Softening my edges, tempering my life force, wearing away abrasiveness, leaching from me all that is no longer essential to my purpose and form. Clues are there – tasty salt upon my lips, a breeze lifting my hair – that unseen forces work steadily at this disassembly. An effortless altering of my biochemistry. We think it’s back to some baseline peaceful state, but I think it’s to a new version of me at peace that is forming. I am not the same, as I was before. The same as other peaceful times. The quality I know as peace, changes as I change. Each return to me, from a wound up person in the throes of life, shows me a me I have yet to meet.

Driftwood

State Beach, Block Island photo by Noelle

Thoughts barely rise, before the sun evaporates them off my mind blurring my sense of where I end and the sand begins. This feels essential. A kind of reset where I am wiped totally clean before rebooting to my new form. It is hard to remember when I used to lie here and pull my other life with me onto the beach towel. Endless, frenzied thoughts about life elsewhere, hardly noticing the call of the sea and the gulls. Somewhere inside of me, I think I have always known my troubles only existed if I kept thinking about them. That they would evaporate if I wasn’t there tending to them and where would that leave me? If I gave up thinking about them, then I might not exist anymore either, for who was I without them?

What a tragedy, not being me, once seemed.

Malingering at the Lagoon

Block Island, photo by Noelle

Now I call the wind and the sea to me, ravish guests to an abundant feast. There is nothing I won’t give them. There is nothing they can’t have. This ship has beached here and has lost all defenses. Pirate gulls and marauding wind, my treasures, such as they are, are yours for the taking.

If you enjoyed this piece, you can find more in my book of meditations called “Into Your Meditation” available on Lulu.com, Amazon and Barnesandnoble.com.

New Year’s Eve

From vivaboo.com

From vivaboo.com

The door is not nearly as grand as one might think. The knob of solid brass, though tarnished from use, glows enough in the dark of the unknown to show me where to lay my hand. The threshold is clear, clean and unobstructed. The frame sturdy and the width large enough for me to pass with anything I wish to carry into this new year. Though not a word is spoken as I stand here, I also know it offers me the chance to walk through naked and with nothing at all.

From wallpaperup.com

From wallpaperup.com

I pull in on the great billows of my lungs the promise of this fresh moment. I let the taste of adventure and mystery to linger deliciously upon my tongue, savoring the prospects of all that I have yet to become. Each new day, of course promises this, too, but there is something unique about New Year’s Eve that speaks to the magic of transformation and opportunity. That calls out into the twinkling darkness of the heaven’s one’s excitement at what’s to come.

From Pinterest images

From Pinterest images

To the wise and quieted mind this wondrous anticipation has all the charm of a child on Christmas morning. It holds the wild hopes only a seaman stepping onto his ship bound for uncharted seas can know. This moment in the dark hours leaving one year to enter another is a sacred passage to those with an open heart. A heart that whispers as it passes through the doorway, “I am ready”.

Christmas Tree

 

 

From: Letstalkabout.co.uk

From: Letstalkabout.co.uk

Today, I send into your meditation a Christmas tree. Few things are quite as beautiful, even in their simplest garb, as a Christmas tree standing alone in the corner of a darkened room. With the children off to bed and even the fire burned down to embers, its value transcends holiday gifts and punch bowls full of nog. In the quiet of the late evening it shimmers and draws all into the mystery. Though the light cast is not bright, there is a magic within it notwithstanding. The ambience of the tree pulls us in as surely as moths to a flame. As a symbol of late December it has brought the Christmas holiday into most homes whether Christian or not. We are drawn to the flickers of light that dispel the darkness, regardless of our secular or religious notions. All have come to share in the delight at midnight hours its curious luminescence.

From moddb.com

From moddb.com

On this great earth are many things, but of late, a thread of violence, greed and despair has consumed our times. Such suffering has gripped our planet and it is often difficult to turn away. What shall dispel this darker part of us? What can illuminate the human heart in such a way as to cast out shadows? Where shall the light come to push that ebony veil back a few feet that we might breathe more deeply?

From hdwallpapers11.com

From hdwallpapers11.com

Until we come to know fully our own luminescence, we will always feel the oppression of that curtain about us. If we can awaken within ourselves our own shimmering light, we become like the Christmas tree, a beacon in dark corners. We alter the darkness not by demand, but by attraction. As we become our true brilliance, all come forward wishing to bask in the glow. Awakened our light joins others dangling so delicately from the tree of life that says:

From coverhdwallpapers.com

From coverhdwallpapers.com

“No darkness shall prevail this night.
No suffering shall lay waste upon my door.
For I am the lone star beaming forth into the firmament.
I am the light that dispels shadows.
I am the voice that calls to others – wake up, see who you are!
See how your light shimmers – see how beautifully it glows.
I hold the power to wipe away darkness in the most dispirited souls beating magically, wildly within my breast.

I shall not listen to the wind that shakes the limbs with fear for I hold fast and true to this branch.
I hold fast and clear to this moment.

I am the mystery!

I am the light!”

From freejupitor.com

From freejupitor.com

Muir, Thoreau and Spirit Wood

White Ranch Park, Colorado: Photo by Noelle

White Ranch Park, Colorado: Photo by Noelle

“The mountains are calling and I must go.” John Muir

National Center for Atmospheric Research, Colorado: Photo by Noelle

National Center for Atmospheric Research, Colorado: Photo by Noelle

“Keep close to Nature’s heart… and break clear away, once in awhile, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.” John Muir

Apex Park, Colorado: Photo by Noelle

Apex Park, Colorado: Photo by Noelle

“Heaven is under our feet as well as over our heads.” Henry David Thoreau

Apex Park, Colorado: Photo by Noelle

Apex Park, Colorado: Photo by Noelle

“I never saw a discontented tree. They grip the ground as though they liked it, and though fast rooted they travel about as far as we do.” John Muir

National Center for Atmospheric Research, Colorado: Photo by Noelle

National Center for Atmospheric Research, Colorado: Photo by Noelle

“When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe.” John Muir

Apex Park, Colorado: Photo by Noelle

Apex Park, Colorado: Photo by Noelle

“We need the tonic of wildness…At the same time that we are earnest to explore and learn all things, we require that all things be mysterious and unexplorable, that land and sea be indefinitely wild, unsurveyed and unfathomed by us because unfathomable. We can never have enough of nature.” Henry David Thoreau

Apex Park, Colorado: Photo by Noelle

Apex Park, Colorado: Photo by Noelle

“Live in each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influence of the earth.” Henry David Thoreau

Apex Park, Colorado: Photo by Noelle

Apex Park, Colorado: Photo by Noelle

“In every walk in nature one receives far more than he seeks.” John Muir

Three

Photo by Noelle

Photo by Noelle

I have a fascination with the number three. I see it everywhere or find myself grouping things in threes. In numerology “….the number 3 resonates with the energies of optimism and joy, inspiration and creativity, speech and communication, good taste, imagination and intelligence, sociability and society, friendliness, kindness and compassion. Number 3 also relates to art, humour, energy, growth, expansion and the principles of increase, spontaneity, broad-minded thinking, synthesis, triad, heaven-human-earth, past-present-future, thought-word-action, demonstrates love through creative imagination…”
(Taken from http://numerology-thenumbersandtheirmeanings.blogspot.com/2011/02/number-3.html)

image Photo by Noelle

All sounds so lovely and there does seem to be something to this. Even in my art work there are patterns of three. I can’t seem to find a balance with a piece without it. The trinity often comes to mind, and in the bible it is the second most referenced number and its sacredness is second only to the number one. One being the totality of God. In Buddhism it is one of the pillar numbers and has far more references than any other. The three refuges: Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. The triple Gem and the three worlds or realms of existence: desire, form and formless. The three bodies of the Buddhas: truth, bliss and emanation. The three pillars of Zen, and so on.
(Taken from: http://www.urbandharma.org/udharma7/numbers.html)

In Islamic traditions, Allah was said to be odd, and thus, loved odd numbers. The first number to indicate the multitude is three and therefore was considered sacred. “The Golden Ratio” in art is a segmentation of three that is natural to the eye’s movement and means of rest. Da Vinci used it extensively but then, interestingly enough, it was called “The Divine Proportion”. I can’t help but feel we all have some pattern of three within us, as certainly mind/body/spirit lives in us daily.

Photo by Noelle

Photo by Noelle

These images of an immersed dock are beautiful unto themselves, but the three posts provide an odd sort of peace I can hardly explain. I believe spirit and the universe have a universal language that is found in math and numbers. I don’t really understand it, to be honest, I just know in these images harmony resonates deeply for me. Three gives me a sense of balance, as if my inner world sat on a tripod.

Death in the Wood

Beetles were still picking at the bones. I came upon it returning from, oddly enough, a dead end trail I’d taken. It was maybe a hundred feet from a service road and maybe two hundred from the interstate. It looked to be a coyote. It was such an odd location I suspected a trooper had pulled it off the interstate and tossed it here to decay. Fur was sinking into the earth and the bones had been partially scattered by scavengers.

I stared at it. One day I will seep into the earth, I thought. I sat on a nearby log and thought it a good omen to consider death for a bit. There are many meditations for pondering death, one in particular, in which you allow yourself to see your body decaying into the earth, like this coyote. So I sat and imagined I was sinking into the earth with him. It wasn’t unpleasant. The day was warm, sunny and there was a breeze under the tree. After a time, I found his bones comforting, and with that the idea of mine vanishing into the wind, too. The whole eco-system benefitted from this death. Tree roots to small weeds grew from the carcass. Green iridescent beetles thrived in the marrow and took what they ingested back into the dirt. I’d have photographed him from a lying position, but for me there’s a line in my creative hunger at lying in a bed of beetles. Still the sun would catch the red of a ladybug or the green of a scarab taking off and I felt not the least sorrow or loss. One day I will be part of all of this beauty.

After a time, I felt less and less as if my body was sitting there and more and more as if the spirit of the coyote had taken a seat next to me. So we sat. My spirit and the spirit of the coyote and we watched the beetles take his body back into the earth. It was a lovely spring day.

For Steve and Juan. Lovely to chat about death….