instead of a warm breeze on the first day of spring in the ripe
countryside, we receive a new world fully gift-wrapped in thick
soft heavy snow. i stand beneath my meditation tree, a
full mature hemlock whose thick branches protectively extend
all the way to the ground. they guard the inner holy chamber
here in the temple of the green sun in safe shelter valley.
most of the trees in these thick woods have already leafed out, so
when the surprise snowstorm rushes silently in during the
predawn hours, all the various trees & bushes are transformed
into strange creatures from another realm, frozen in mid-step.
but the most mesmerizing thing i notice is the sound that
the wind makes as it gusts through the trees. i have never before
heard such a sighing, murmuring whisper rushing from the play
of the wind in the snow-covered leafy branches of the trees!
i stand entranced by the untimely swirling flakes. i bask
in the sweet aloneness, soothed by the temple of the green sun.
all sound is softened, blended into the continued soughing
of the wind in the boughs of the trees. this is the time to go
deep within, to plumb down beneath the surface of the mundane
in a rare inner archeology to reveal the heart.
this is when the world pauses & i'm standing on the edge of
everything i have known, poised to take that next step forward. all
around me the white cloaked trees stand as dignified sentinels.
the wind links us in a shared meditation, giving voice
to the trees in a mystic dialect of OM seldom heard.
ah Shiva! thank You for the precious gems of memory that
we share from Your akashic records. that rare magical spring
equinox under the calm quiet cover of snow always
soothes & uplifts when i visit it. this is a sweet healing.
is that You, Shiva, whispering in my ear? or the soughing
of the wind in the snow-laden branches? or perhaps they are
really much the same thing, upon deeper reflection. You are
always guiding me towards seeing the wholeness that includes
all the parts. guide me now, Shiva, please guide me from deep within.
the woods at deep twilight smell sweet & moist, immersed in the subtle
allure of the night's hidden magic. the roosting crows in repose
mutter good night to one another in soft clicks & croaks. shadows
settle over the trees, descending from the hands of the sky like
a shawl to wrap the woods in featureless & faceless protection.
sharp details belong to the day, are necessary to see for
the accomplishments & unveilings that take place under the sun.
deeds are done & tasks await: gathering & dispersing happens.
order is valued & scripts are offered for all the roles & their
requirements. survival is the bottom line. i hold myself in
to fit within the narrow slot allotted for those such as me.
but at night, in the mysterious woods, none of that bright world rules.
here in the darkness, the unknown & irrational prevail, & the
shadows may be doorways opening into other realms. You come
to me through those shadows, Shiva, & tell me of wonders beyond.
You touch my heart & unlock it, & i will forever thank You
for this, for coming to me. i will forever thank You, Shiva.
the woods in full nightfall smell sweet & moist, an invitation to
deeper magic. Shiva, soon the moon will rise high & the darkling
playmates emerge from hiding. there's a song in my heart that escapes
through my lips & it stands as a motto for this entire life. "i
mean no harm; i am passing through. i celebrate all existence."
thank You, Shiva, for urging me out to befriend the darkness &
the unfamiliar. You hold me in Your hands & in Your heart
& i hold on to You forever. You take away my concern &
You leave me with Your grace, here in the woods in the deep of the night.
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
You sent me out into the woods at twilight to sing
to devas in the blue ridge mountains of my dreamtime.
i consecrated leafy temples to the divine
as You urged me deeper into the green-fingered trees.
You led me on intense quest after quest. i trusted
You to guide me on my way & You have blessed me, made
a thing of beauty of my long stumbling life-journey.
You urged me close so that i could take refuge in You.
You are my true reality in this comedy
of posturing, this rowdy parade of cosmic clowns.
You have ordered this woman's life to sacred song
which is imprinted deeply in my heart's memory:
"i mean no harm. i am passing through. i celebrate
all existence." & i do, regularly, daily.
truly, seeking refuge in You takes me to the heart
where all experience is rendered luminous, pure,
with sacred secret messages of Your loving care,
that holy trust that has me singing of You, Shiva!