Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Caught in A Silver Lining

    Actually, it was gold, not silver, that splashed me in a wave of wonder—but the metaphor still works.  It was the gold of a summer morning, gilding a field of baled grass. The gold of sunlight shimmering on a mowed trail beside the Coast Fork of the Willamette River. Morning light, so rich and warm that it penetrated the dark burrow of vulnerability and grief that had enfolded me after a hiking fall in June. The same light, I think, that inspired poet Mary Oliver to write:       

     “Hello sun in my face.
      Hello, you who make the morning
      and spread it over the fields…
      good morning, good morning, good morning.
      Watch now, how I start the day
      in happiness, in kindness.”

   What a joy to start a day this way:
                          In happiness, in kindness! 

    I don’t really believe that things always happen as they are “supposed to.” I'm not quite convinced that the “universe” or an omnipotent force is guiding my daily ups and downs. Still, there was an undeniable sort of synchronicity at work in the obligation that got me out of the burrow. 

    Months ago, when event planners at Mt Pisgah asked if I would lead a couple of mindful meadow walks this summer at the popular county park, how could I refuse? I’ve been traveling the trails of Mt. Pisgah for years, seeking the welcoming embrace of its open slopes through hard times and jubilant ones. I said, “yes,” even though the meadow trails had never appealed to me. I’m a goal-driven, head-for-the-summit hiker most of the time.

    Two weeks ago,  with dates for the community walks looming, I turned to the meadow with a sigh of gratitude for a flat terrain. Well, it seemed flat until I put a foot down and discovered that the path, mowed through valley grasslands, traveled atop undulations, squirrel holes and the occasional rock. It demanded constant recalibration of foot placement and stability. It demanded mindfulness!  As I traveled the open meadow trails, choosing a route for a guided walk, I felt myself rising effortlessly out of the shadowy night that followed June's broken elbow. Sunlight seduced me with an infusion of awe. 

Great Photo by Kiernan O'Rourke-Phipps
    On Sunday morning, I led participants along 2 ½ miles of meadow trails in the first of two walks I’d promised. With a mindful focus on sight, sound, smell, and feelings, we traveled a path of sensory awareness that invited connection with nature, and with the vitality of life. It brought me home to myself again, gratefully trusting the path I’m walking. It brought me to my senses--welcoming a new day "in happiness, in kindness." 

   Search for “Why I Wake Early” on the internet to read  all of Mary Oliver’s tribute to morning. Come to your senses on your next walk with a “Sensory Scan” that focuses on each of your senses, one at a time, for a block or a few minutes.  See p 129 of Healing Walks for Hard Times for more sensory focus. 

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