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Yesterday, I started on my usual Sunday hike… got out the door late… decided to do a quick hike. Got to the parking lot…jammed packed. Went to a new spot… unanticipated…. unplanned.
On a whim… headed up a side trail… wary it might be too slippery and dangerous. But something continued to pull me inward. I decided to trust the pull.
Came upon what is usually a dry arroyo for run-off during flashfloods… at most, a small barely noticeable trickle of a stream. What a surprise when it was a complete sheet of frozen ice arcing down the ravine. A cascading waterfall stilled by the touch of winter. A magnificent sculpture shaped by wind and cold… with the chorus of tinkling water flowing beneath.
Up the slushy path and deep into the heart of The Mother… dank, dark, absolute quiet. I notice the densely packed Doug fir towering above me and up the steep sides of this narrow side canyon… stifling sunlight. I stopped several times to witness the profound silence… not a sound but the rushing of blood through my head and the beating of my own heart. I stop just to relish the lack of sound. Not even a whisper of a wind… gently held in the arms of the ravine.
Nearing the top, the grade of the trail steepens sharply. An effort to get to the top. The sky bursts into view amidst the top of trees. With all the effort of pushing up the hill, as I near the top, I am quite suddenly birthed on top of the ridge…. a sharp inhale of breath as if it were my first. A few more steps along the ridge and the view of the entire canyon opens before me. I feel as if I am viewing my own heart.
From here, the presence of sky dominates. The cry of a hawk echoes through the space between, tree and rock and blue. Sound travels differently up here. I no longer feel my own heart beating but I see it everywhere in the pulsation of life around me.
I sit perched on a rock facing the canyon and then I see it… the most amazing tree shape. Having been knocked over and partially uprooted many years ago, this tree did not die but survived through the strong hold of a few determined roots. But having its natural direction of growth thwarted, this tree grew along the ground with branches reaching skyward like mini trees. And where it’s trunk was bent, twisted, and scarred from the fall were the most incredible patterns of shape and color and texture. It was amazing to behold… as if a bonsai master had deliberately bent, shaped, and scarred the tree for the beauty of it.
I paused for a moment and wondered if my own journey through life, my own inevitable falls and scars held such beauty.
Back down the slippery trail, I was able to slide through the slushy snow on the steeper sections of the trail, and still remain upright! I stopped by the frozen waterfall one last time to listen to the bright song of water flowing beneath. I thought how each journey… no matter how short… is a metaphor for moving through our lives. There are steep sections, slippery spots, obstacles, moments of pause and stillness, gifts of perspective and insight.
And the opportunity to see the beauty in all of it.
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