A couple months ago, I went camping about 7500 ft up in the Tahoe National Forrest. I have had the honor of visiting many of the mountains in this country and I am always amazed by the different personalities they express. This range was no different.
The day we hiked was filled with contrast. The sky was a tapestry of intermediate thunderstorms and rays of sunshine. This played perfectly on the land which was scattered with rocks of all colors–from the white of quartz to the deep rust red of the iron filled slabs. Their sizes were just as different, from boulders like elephants to pebbles like ants.
The forest there ranged from huge green pines, lushly full of greens and browns, the bright neon green moss clinging to branches and trunks, down to the small saplings growing in their shadow underneath. There were stretches of area where many of the trees had died, tall white monoliths of a former life, fallen matriarchs breaking down into squares of brown, dried compost, yet still holding the shape that used to be called, Tree.
As I settled into the contrast, that vibrant stillness that so often comes to me when I am in nature arrived. This for me is always a time of reverance, much like dipping your hand into holy water and crossing yourself when you enter a catholic church or the way one bows and removes ones shoes when entering an ashram. Nature is my church, I would be remiss NOT to silence myself in Her presence.
As always, when I meet Nature after time apart, which happens when you live in an urban world, I waited in the stillness to hear what she had to share with me. What she said was this…
“Daughter, you have always lived your life/death/life cycles with such dualistic enthusiam (HA! What that means is I’ve fallen on my ass time and time again and yet always choose to get back up). I know you have just reached the end of another death cycle. Look around you. Do you see that in Nature Life and Death live as One? This is what I want for you.”
I could feel the energy of the land so present that I actually turned around and expected to see an old grandmother there looking up at me with wise and determined eyes. AND then, something shifted. I choose life.
I had actually chosen life a few days ago. This moment on the mountain was rather like a child choosing which college she wanted to attend, then going to the parents saying, “I choose Dartmouth or Harvard.” I was going to my Mother saying, “I choose Life. Now, tell me how to do this.”
You see, Ive encountered some pain in my life. This pain has lived with me all of my life. Its been a part of my life for so long I identify it as being the very thing that allows me to be so full of joy. Yet, pain is a tough task master and to be an indentured servant to.
Sometimes pain has come on me so strongly that I have wanted to simply…end it. The degree of my life/death/life cycles have been extreme. Far less the simplicity of having fallen on hard times and having to choose a new way, but of wondering, “Do I want to die this time or will I stay?”
“ The deeper that sorrow carves into your being the more joy you can contain. Is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter’s oven?” ~ Kahlil Gibran
Ive had these thoughts all my life, though they became less and less frequent as I matured. Even as I work and live to support joy in others, my inner world has been riddled with thoughts of leaving it all behind, but at some point I needed to make the choice to live.
“Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding. Even as the stone of the fruit must break, that its heart may stand in the sun; so must you know pain. And could you keep your heart in wonder at the daily miracles of your life, your pain would not seem less wondrous than your joy.” ~ Kahlil Gibran