Wednesday, April 23, 2014
At the River's Edge
I thought I'd write about a moment I had this afternoon at the river. I'd love your thoughts. Please consider sharing them in the comments section. Thanks!
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I descended the sharp banks of the river not caring whether I could get back up its steep and slippery slope. Wet leaves and loose soil gave way under my feet and I mused at the situations I find myself in as I succumbed to the notion of simply sliding the rest of the way down in a crab-like fashion-with my feet working hard at directing my path and my hands behind me holding the rest of myself up to prevent the bottom of my pants from getting completely wet. How undignified and primitive I become in the woods! How little I care. All the while I was doing this I could hear her rushing waters getting louder and quickened my pace. I felt an intense longing to nestle into one of her gentle curves sheltered by the towering groves of coniferous trees lining her shapely form and chant.
My feet ended up landing themselves on a small outlet carpeted with an assortment of large pebbles-mostly various colored quartz and sandstone, smooth and rounded. Taking a sharp right and stepping back up on the forest floor I found myself in an area interspersed with large rocks, lush moss and trees sporting thick roots protruding in an exaggerated fashion from the damp soil.
I settled down on a large flat rock beside the waters churning white and gently pulled my mala off from around my neck while breathing deep and taking in my surroundings. The wind was bitter but I was somewhat sheltered by most of it from where I sat. The sun teasingly drifted in and out of dark rain clouds that occasionally expelled their icy pellets.
I began chanting my rounds. moving from bead to bead. With each repetition my mantra’s sound vibrations drifted across the river and through the surrounding forest. I concentrated on each syllable and let my gaze loosely settle on the patch of swirling water before me. Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna Hare Hare/ Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama Hare Hare
It wasn’t long after I began when a flash of golden amber and deep brown in my periphery caused my head to instinctively turn and I caught sight of a most magnificent and beautiful bird of prey. Its head was white and I would have thought just by looking at his head that he was a bald eagle, though he did lack the bold yellow beak I associate with them. He was too brown with speckles of amber so I took him to be perhaps a falcon or hawk. He swooped with intent, sailing low above the middle of the river and when almost out of sight circled back and finally landed on a high branch of a nearby cedar.
I continued to chant while appreciating his stately splendor and my heart leapt as he plunged downwards to the water swooping his lower half in her white waters. A flurry of activity commenced causing considerable splashing all lasting but a brief while and when he arose and effortlessly glided past me and then circled back to his branch I thought it was a safe hypothesis to conclude he had missed his prey as I saw nothing in his talons nor did I see him consume anything once back on his chosen perch.
Now on round three I watched his proud form rest for awhile and then once again plunge into the river’s elusive waters and ascend towards higher elevations once more after another flurry of activity. Just like the previous time he flew by me and back to his branch with seemingly nothing. He must have caught something there in the past as he kept returning to the same spot and yet his time for lunch had not yet come. I was okay with not witnessing death this cold spring day. Already chambers of my heart had grown numb and dark from experiencing a fresh dose of pain and grief, mourning the loss of a sense of security, stability and trust. I only wished to sit in peace for awhile and chant my mantra, allowing it to sink deep within my consciousness as the day opened herself before me. Branches swayed all around being pushed this way and that by the strong winds while the dark clouds above momentarily broke open. Sunlight filtered in casting its radiance all around, the waters reflecting its brilliance in the form of dazzling sparks dancing atop its surface.
Soon it was time to leave and I laughed at the wall of shifting earth I now had to make my way back up. Oh the obstacles we make for ourselves! But I didn't mind. It caused me to become more than intimate with the fresh smelling earth that rose before me and I was thankful for the extra physical exertion causing me to feel enlivened. By the time I arrived back at home I no longer felt suffocated nor dismayed but my heart felt lighter and my mind had a renewed sense of clarity. I was thankful I chose the time to get outside and chant rather than allow myself to be mired in self pity. I also felt gratitude for the moments I had in witnessing such a beautiful creature go about his usual mid afternoon routine at the river's edge.