i watch the exodus of the fall leaves from the trees; crispy red, yellow, orange & brown against the cerulean sky. some leaves simply let go & drift slowly to the ground among the other fallen leaves. ah, but some leaves are teased from the silent trees by the busy hands of the wind & whirled on a great journey, as if on a pilgrimage to holy Mount Kailash. they spin in spirals, almost describing arcane esoteric glyphs of power & vision; up, up into the sky & onward beyond my ken.
i ponder on those soaring leaves, taken up through no intention of their own to sail through the deep mystery into the light. they appear to be no different from the other leaves that simply fall softly to the earth & lie there unnoticed. who can say that wind-surfing half the world away to Kailash is any more auspicious than quietly yielding to ones destiny without fanfare, & nobly enduring? in the end, Shiva holds us all to his breast like lost children come home to be cherished at last. in the end, when it all folds up again, we return to our innocence.
a rowdy pack of dogs goads a herd of cows through the rugged woods, where the cows take asylum in the fallow corn field by our house. during the weeks they are here they graze the field clear & they open a pathway down to shelter valley by the creek. here the cows rest safely beneath the great hemlock tree whom i call mother because of her broad, thick & wide-stretched open arms that guard & secure the cool protected cave-like chamber beneath this sentinel tree.
it is a sanctuary for the cows & later, for me, my haven where i meditate, self-review & become absorbed in the ancient energies of the mountain, valley & free-flowing streams of water bordering toward the east & the west of this secluded nature preserve & branch-cloistered nurturing retreat.
i call the auspicious spacious chamber beneath mother hemlock the temple of the green sun. sunlight filters through the green hemlock needles, casting an undersea glow because the branches sweep the earth around the tree & the feeling is of a sanctified place. my chair leans against her trunk as sunlight streams in long shifting bands of swirling dusty light all around & arching high overhead. for years we commune daily, the mother hemlock & i, in all kinds of weather, both inside my head & touching on the outer.
then it happens: the plague of wooly adelgids arrives at the blue ridge mountains & the mother hemlock falls a victim to it. the invasive insects slowly vampirize the tree, drinking her juices. her needles fall, branches becoming bare in a few years, her power & glory sucked away, her dark bones starkly showing. i am watching a loved one slowly die during these years, for there's no cure or help for the mother hemlock. we are all powerless in the face of this fierce invading pestilence that ravages.
the temple of the green sun is gone. it's now a somber graveyard, a tomb marking the death of a local goddess, & i am but memorializing her & the peaceful shelter she furnished. now she is a skeleton, bare & dark against the empty sky. goodbye, mother hemlock, farewell & my gratitude goes with you. i also no longer flourish & thrive, though it's better for me than for you, yet you are always in my memory: teacher, friend & dear companion for long, wonderful country-time years down the curvy backroads of the blue ridge mountains of north carolina.
ah Shiva! growing as a tree, You show me blessings & teach me patience, acceptance & detachment. I thank You for giving this insight, for showing me You can change form yet ever reappear as the consummate teacher & companion. You are woven like a heartening red thread patterned throughout my whole life, revealing Yourself to be the heart & soul of every blessing & every challenge, connecting the varied myriad parts as one, having a single intent. You make of me a better person so that my personality may serve the world. You show me that i also, in essence, extend far beyond form, merging myself into You at deepest core & fundament, eluding words altogether.
You are the dogs, the cows, the hemlock tree, wooly adelgids too. just because i cannot comprehend the whole pattern does not mean a thing & i know that fact well! i have taken refuge in You, Shiva, so let the drama play out; it's beyond my concern now. all i need is You, my Beloved, & You know that very well: You have been lighting the way ceaselessly since time & space burst forth. OM NAMAH SHIVAYA