Eyes fluttering open as the edges of the dream world recede and reality sets in. With only a few blinks the day already feels heavy or perhaps that was just my heart. Move into the day I must, and so it is began again, another day of living loss. The grieving process is different for everyone. I am not sure if it is better to have one great consuming loss or if it is better to be done over snippets of time like it is being experienced as my mother slips further from her former self a little each day. I have experienced both ways now, each leaving an ache in the soul, a gaping emptiness that is never quite filled again. A sigh escapes as I arise and move through my morning ritual.
The cool contact of damp wood on bare foot stills me. Something is different. A soft refreshing wind brushes feathery light kisses across my skin making it prickle. My spirit lightens. I breathe deeply the scent of damp earth and crisp clean air. The woodlands call to me to come and explore. I gratefully accept the invitation.
Standing in the beams of the morning sun, hair lifting on fingers of the breeze, I felt the elements waring for my favor. Warmth and light make me lift my face, close my eyes, and savor the invisible contact of incandescence. The sound of the wind is like the gentle whisper of "Shhh..." through its puckered lips blown across fingered tree tops, it stills my soul. I give them equal attention as a small measure of peace slips around me like a light mantle.
I turn my back on the responsibilities of the day and simply walk away. With each step I felt the restlessness in my spirit being sated. I idly wandered along a meandering path in the east woods stopping to drink in deep breaths of sight and sound. That is when I noticed the absence of the constant thrum that vibrates the summer air. The cicadas had gone silent, no grasshoppers sawing a lazy summer tune, not even a peep from the peepers.
Standing stock still, I watched a tree breathe. Its lifeblood of sap coursed through its veins, a slight movement right then left gave it the appearance of the rise and fall of human breath as its barrel chested trunk moved in rhythmic motion at the brushing of the passing wind.
Along the ridge, over a rise, through the woods, along a deer path, where there was no path I continued my journey. I thought of my inherit need to connect with nature in a tangible way. It makes me feel grounded in a way that nothing else does. It is my escape just as surly as it was my ancestors. I take to the woods to seek reprieve from the oppressions of life as they did. I find strength, renewal, peace, and shelter in this form or prayer, this aimless walking. My trail too, is covered with tears.
Passage of time ceases to matter. Destination does not need to be decided. Thought can be fleeting. Foot to earth is all that matters. I stop. There is a gift on my path...a downy feather, a message from nature to contemplate. My ancestors believed that all feathers relate to the human spirit and its innate connection to the Divine. A feather has the ability to lift, insulate, and protect against life's elements. The symbolic meaning of a feather is to inspire us to soar to new heights. This simple gift from nature was a symbol of reassurance, appearing in this difficult phase of life, letting me know that I am loved and watched over. I am under His wings.
Lift of head, lift of heart, lift of lips in bow curved smile, I step homeward. At the trail head amid a blanket of coppery decaying leaves is one brilliant spot of color. Riddled with rays of lemon and orange radiating to ruby red center is a setting sun rooted to the earth. Its brilliance against the dull backdrop makes me gasp.
I have glimpsed the intricate beauty of life this day, sadness and sorrow, past and present, life and death, the natural world and the celestial one, all interconnected. I return with renewed vigor to the chirping of the phone, and so it is begun again, another day of living...