This post follows In Sight (Part 1).
Yet, I was content enough here wasn’t I [living part of the year in Abiquiu, New Mexico]? The desert was starkly beautiful, and I loved the place I lived, doing my best to create a home, planting trees and creating small gardens. I had escaped the too long winters, the heavy physical work associated with them. Yet questions gnawed at me. What did it mean to feel at home? Why the profound feelings of emptiness and lack of clarity? And what about the light?
I couldn’t escape the problem of light. One of the reasons I set out for the river in the dark was because I wanted these walks to end before sunrise. There was a quality of intense light present during the day in the too thin air that I found disturbing. Too much light, air, wind, and on the other extreme, too much stone. The crust of the earth held little in the way of new life in the desert. Survival of any plant species was precarious and dependent on the rains that rarely came. Almost everything I planted ended up dead. The desert had little to offer in terms of containment for people or plants. The sky gods ruled the desert, and did so with an iron will. Stone doesn’t surrender; it is incapable of receiving. This was not a forgiving place.
During the fourth winter, I began slipping into a meditative state as I set off for the river in the dark. I knew the path by heart; my feet guided me allowing my questions around home and other personal issues to dissipate in silence without thought intruding. Peace entered when I was focusing on what my senses were experiencing – paying close attention to whatever Nature presented me with – every piece of bark on the Cottonwoods, decaying brown leaves, dead grass, birds – all seemed to carry messages I could discern through my bodily senses – examining a frost covered branch, frozen grasses that glowed, listening to the haunting calls of the migrating cranes allowed me to anchor myself firmly in Now. My gratitude for being alive flowed naturally, without effort. Gradually, oh so gradually I began to realize that I had never been able to ground myself anywhere in this barren rock strewn earth.
When I came to the desert I left my body.
Except for these brief walks to the river and into the wetlands each morning I had been walking on air.
For an hour each day I was able to re-enter my body as I entered a light trance circling the paths of the Bosque. Illumination after illumination struck as trees and roots spoke to me. For four years I had been traversing an invisible maze. No wonder I was unable to put down roots here. I needed to return to my home in Maine. This truth suddenly seemed so obvious that I found myself questioning what had happened to me to lead me on this circular journey. When the answers came they were as clear as they were complex. Meanwhile, each morning I continued to post a photos and personal comments after reflecting on the truths my body imparted to me that day …
When Covid struck I felt terror strike for I was in in the highest risk category … At the same time I began to think of these pre-dawn musings as a kind of intentional gift, not just for myself, but for anyone that might need to ponder images of beauty, experience gratitude, or listen to one person’s truth during increasingly fearful and uncertain times…
I returned to Maine in April with all kinds of problems ahead. The most important issue besides my health is that I have yet to find anyone to commit to replacing rotting beams in my cellar crawlspace. Mold is another issue. So I am hardly living a paradisiacal life! And yet…
Although I no longer have to leave the house in the predawn hours I continue my morning meditation with as much awareness as I can conjure up, using pictures I have taken the day before to post publically as I comment on what has moved me. On some heavily clouded mornings like this one, I meander through my pine forest breathing in the intoxicating scent of pine listening to the comforting sound of rumbling thunder in the distance feeling reverence and gratitude for the coming rain and ‘what is’ … sinking into that same light trance state as I did in the Bosque.
My sight has been restored. I am rooted in the midst of a dark green religion of trees, fertile ground, and water. Fruit trees lean towards the house. Maples provide abundant summer shade and fall color. Evergreens line the brook. A path through a forest of white pines beckons from my door. All these roots tap into my own. My body knows I belong here. I move through an underground portal; I am attached to the body of the earth and to my own body through my love for this land.
Sara is a naturalist, ethologist ( a person who studies animals in their natural habitats) (former) Jungian Pattern Analyst, and a writer. She publishes her work regularly in a number of different venues and is presently living in Maine.