Saturday, December 02, 2006

Pine Grove

Today I had to call my walk short because the sun was setting and I didn't have my headlamp with me. I took a detour from my regular big loop through the woods past a stand of trees I haven't visited in a long time. That grove is special to me.

More than fifteen years ago, I was in a terrible place in my life. I had passed a huge professional landmark and people were singing my praises. I wanted to share their enthusiasm but I felt completely depleted, sapped of my energy and drive. The emptiness drove me to psychotherapy which helped some, but didn't help enough. I felt wrung of my life.

I made changes. I took part time temporary work and started exploring areas I had never looked into before: lecture series, fun classes, church, singing groups. I started swimming in a small lake and found myself feeling better. After a few weeks I was swimming outside the ropes into the lake with the distance swimmers. Something lifted in me.

The seasons shifted and it got too cold to swim. I started walking. I walked alone which broke a cultural rule...women are not supposed to go alone into the woods. I felt my well being, really my life depended on those walks.

I was extremely overweight at the time (obese according to the Body Mass Index) and without the gravity erasing effects of the water I found myself tired after walking the small loop I used to travel. I found a special grove of trees. I broke another rule. I stepped off the path and entered the grove. I sat quietly at the end of several of my walks.

Deeper woods called. There was something about the light. I found a grassy depression in the ground ringed by pine trees. I sat, softened my eyes, relaxed my vigilance about being alone in the woods. After a while I felt clear.

I returned another time carrying a small nylon tarp. I looked around carefully making sure I was alone and I slipped off-trail to my grassy depression. I spread out the tarp and lay on it and closed my eyes. I drifted into an altered presence, taking in forest sounds. I felt safe. I felt wrung of my sorrows.

I returned again and again and over time felt an inner sounding, a sense of oneness in that bed of grasses, the ring of trees.

I realize now I was meditating in my grove. I have since had instruction and experience with that state of presence. I have to add however, that particular wooded temple brought me to a place I only experience in nature.

I have new special places and I have a few special others with whom I share the experience.

I walk the same woods but I travel a much longer loop which doesn't pass my special grove except on days I am caught short on time or daylight. Maybe that was my blessing today.

Can place hold prayer? That describes my experience all those years ago. I am grateful for the solace and inner knowing I found in that bed and those trees.

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