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.

Night Walk: Part V

Free Bing Photos

Free Bing Photos

A twenty minute walk would normally take you to the lake, but on this night it was closer to thirty five. The the road I cross from the marsh to lake is poorly cleared and there is a field of six to eight inches of snow to cross to reach the lake. I followed the cross country ski lines I saw so clearly in the light of the moon, from someone who had passed this way earlier in the day. I knew in all this crunch of snow and steaming breath no wildlife would be caught unaware. An owl can here a mouse crawling under snow a half mile off. To any Great Horned nearby I am sure I sounded a fire brigade to its ears. By the time I reached the lake I was sweating and hot and pealing off mittens, coat and hat as fast as I could. Temperatures enough to freeze the lake solid and I was as close to naked as I could stand amidst huge billows of steaming air.

As my breath slowed I became keenly aware of the sounds around me. Someone scraping a shovel on a sidewalk not quite a kilometer off. The highway to the west that runs below the hills that nestle the lake. A dog barking and someone calling out to a passerby. Sound carried across the snow as if we were all swimming in water. The ice on the lake cracked near where I was standing, but was muffled by all the snow. I was alone out here. With the light of the moon I could see for miles. Nothing along the lakeside moved. I stood very still and looked all around me. I am not even sure how to describe how the moon turned the lake into an iridescent opal of blues and purples. How tiny bits of light winked up off the snow in the moonlight, made all the clearer because of the darkness. How tree limb shadows snaked out across the snow in the deepest shades of purple and violet. The snow-capped hogbacks rose beyond the lake peppered in evergreen and patches of tall grasses positively glowing. The stars sat deep in their velvety darkness humbled by the moonlight and I too bowed to her power.

I redressed quickly as the sweat began to cool me off more than I wanted and picked the lower trail. I knew I needed to keep moving. I passed near a neighborhood that borders the lake. All the shades had been pulled that faced the mountains of these houses and I wondered at all they were missing. If I lived at the corner house I would never close my shades. On a night like this I would sit in my darkened home with the curtains wide, sipping hot cocoa enjoying an immense view.

On the far side, farthest from the neighborhoods and the roads and nearest the hogbacks, I stopped and listened for a long while. If you listen carefully you realize there is a deep silence even in the noise of neighboring life. It is steady and persistent. You may stand to listen for a moment, but it enchants you the longer you stand there. In all that silence, in all that open space covered in moonlit snow you forget yourself. You forget the cold and the distance for home. You forget you are a mere human in all this grandeur, and yet, that is when you realize you are the grandeur, too. The moment you stopped to appreciate all that beauty and silence you became a part of it. Instead of moving through, you moved in. In that moonlit field by the lake you have become, like the wild buckwheat and tall prairie grass, another motionless figure adding to the rich texture of a majestic landscape.

Earth

Really look deep. Take in the red and let it sink into your root chakra – fire. Allow the rich azure to settle upon you a royal crown. Draw the green into your heart on each breath and know your majesty. Feel the color filling you up, the coolest draught. Drink yourself drunk on the beauty. Now settle down. Sink your feet like tree roots into the earth. Go down, deep and dark into the fertile soil until you hit the molten core. You are exactly where you are meant to be. Breathing in the earth and breathing out love. There is a a pulse as deep in the earth as in you, waiting for you to lay your hand upon it.

Tree I Know

Quite some time passes when I am in the company of a tree I feel I know. Some I do, as in I have grown up with them or pass them often on my walks. We have that familiarity of time and company. Others simply stop me because I KNOW them, deep at the center of me. Maybe they feel the same. A sense of deep woodiness at the center of their being about me. I walk among them, along creek beds and down into the marsh, running my hands on their bark. Rough and rutted I scratch my back like a bear. I understand Muir’s passion to protect them. I, too, find it hard to return home. The company they offer runs as rich and deep as their roots.

Tree Line

There is no doubt I love to walk summer trails, but there is something about the wood in fall and winter that stirs me deeply. The shadow and light play differently at the longer light angles. There is a feeling, too, of all that once was and what will be hanging on each branch like flowering ghosts.