The River Trail

My heart cries out for a little forest love, this mid-November day. The sun is glinting off the glacier as I head to the logging road, and that is a frosty, slippery adventure in itself, just getting to the trail. It’s chilly! Record low temperatures. I know it’s the right choice for my morning hike as I stop to take in the view of the headwaters of the watershed: river meandering on its course, green spreading out and up into the low hills, snow in the high mountains. The slanting autumn sunlight over all brightens the chill, and I never fail to be awed and exhilarated by this vantage point.

It is cold enough that my boots make a satisfying crunch on the trail; a rarity in this temperate rain forest where mud is the winter norm. Perhaps because of the cold, there is not a soul to be seen, and the silence quite profound. At one point in a clearing of deciduous trees, I can actually hear the sound of the few remaining leaves on the trees hitting the ground…echoes of crows in the distance, and faint forest rustlings are all the soundscape save me.

This is a trail with a few spectacular views, and I stop at every one. The sense of simply letting the beauty and stillness wash over me works its magic, and I arrive at my chosen destination – the summer swimming hole – with body warmed, head cleared, heart restored to the sweetness of life.

therivertrail

I am deeply aware of what a gift it is, this beauty of the place I live in. Maybe it is merely that I am a simple person that I take such pleasure and sustenance in it, but it seems to me that seeking out the gift is a gift, too. My week has been full with work and writing and  friends, but it is this daily hour or two at deep, restorative play that keeps me most keenly alive. Alive to curiosity, potential, the mystery of it all.

Yes, how very sweet it is, my imaginary friend. The glacier, the mountains, the forest, the river – they move in a different stream of time. Stepping into the stream is to step into eternity, briefly. To become one with the cosmos… Merely my fancy, perhaps. Still, if I could, I would give everyone this gift – ah, here it is, offered up with love.

Metaphor

How...You Make Me Feel

How…You Make Me Feel

 

Blank canvas. Unlimited possibilities…

The petals of a hundred roses, pressed one by one into the medium. Layer after layer, chosen for shape and size and colour – for texture. Blossoming from the centre a full-blown rose. Flakes of pure gold cradled by softness of petal; pink of health; blue of brilliant mystery and potential. Stars over all, circles of connection anchoring.

Words. Shimmering, golden words echoing in the ether, bridging time and distance and dimension. Love.

On Love, In Love

I have written much on the theme of love these past few months, which I think has been leading to this. I do believe I should like to begin with an image of my view of love as the centre of the lovely deliciousness that is life, the cherry, if you will.         cherry-chocolate

My business consultant said to me, many years ago: “You really love your employees.” Given the context of our conversation, it took me a minute or two to respond to him, but the short answer was – yes, and perhaps this was when my inner journey to expand my thoughts and beliefs on love began. Recently my blogger friend Teenage Introvert also wrote a post which contained the line: “Now the struggle is not about ‘trying to love’, it’s more like ‘allowing Love to pour out’, something I cannot explain.”  Between these two points of time lies an immense ocean of immersing myself in the ethos of love.

For all its endless portrayals of happy-ever-after love, western culture decidedly does not celebrate love so much as objectify it…this kind of love, that looks this way, is acceptable; others: suspect. The range of templates for love is narrow…and then there are those of us who believe that love pours out of us, and that this is a natural and desired state of being. The idea does defy explanation, and my attempts to illuminate it will necessarily fall short, but I shall take up the challenge.

As infants, our love begins with parents, and physical reality – being warm, cuddled, soothed, fed, engaged – and expands outwards, slowly but surely, to siblings, home, playmates, teachers, and on. We recognize that not all infants are born into loving circumstances, and this is problematic for learning love; but most of us experience enough, if not ideal love. Does love stop expanding outward for some people, or is it merely the expression of love in the wider world that is curtailed? Perhaps a bit of both.

I find it easy enough to imagine a world where work and work places are so much more satisfying and creative because love imbues co-workers for one another, and for the recipients of their goods and/or services…yes, I hear the sneers and snickers back there. I can easily imagine a world where hospitals and clinics are true healing places because love informs the practice and practitioners of medicine. I can easily imagine a world where friends and acquaintances are not a closed set of like-minded people, but an ever-expanding group of many, because love is the principle of listening and respect for difference. I can easily imagine a world that is more civil, because love acknowledges that people make mistakes, or lack courtesy, but have not lost all value as human beings. I do so hope, my imaginary friend, that you will not construe this as some new age cult of positivism: Be Happy!!!!! , said with too many exclamation marks, and often no acknowledgement that people must grieve, sometimes. Or that it is some version of “turn the other cheek”, for we must stand up to wrongs strongly and ensure our voices are heard. Or that we must accept some boorish behaviour, for the sake of social niceties. I think, I believe that we are born to put love at the centre of our lives, not the periphery, and that this love will pour out of us if we let it. That it is, in fact, the most powerful force in the universe, by whichever name you should wish to call it…

If our love be clouded, or contained, if it does not reach to the stars and beyond, if our love does not shine as surely as the glory of the night skies; why, some integral, essential piece of our human nature is muted. There are other truths about human nature, of course, but it seems to me that this piece, the ability to live in love is the piece most lacking in the puzzle of our current lives. It is not the form and outline of our loves that define us: it is that love pours out of us. To be in love is to be, to really be, at the heart of the deliciousness of life. Romantic notions of love say that some special ‘other’ completes us, makes us whole…I say that the love that completes us and makes us whole is already there, waiting to be let out.

Month Of Elder

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The day is damply overcast, but lovely freshets of wind blowing, for all that. I cannot stay inside: I need that wind blowing in my hair and that pale, lucent light and that vision of autumn leaves. The leaves skitter through the air with dips and swirls and aimless gusts, and this is a visual representation of my thoughts. My thoughts that refuse to stay focused, to buckle down to work; that are unruly and chaotic and wild and yearning… Oh, there is really nothing wrong here, my imaginary friend, but change is in the air in so many ways, and change can be unsettling, at first.

This change moves through me like the tide, ebbing and flowing. It is both rising and receding tide, for the fruits of autumn are harvested and stored, the chaff and husks winnowed away. ‘Tis nature’s time of preparing for winter, of paring away the old, and my inner season matches the outer. What to keep, and what to throw away, are very much on my mind.

What to throw out: the dry husks of habits wearing grooves in my life. The chaff of meaningless small town convention. The twigs of small irritants rubbing away at tender skin, and the dying tendrils of vines tethering my limbs and spirit. These I shall pile in a heap, with the anticipation of a glorious bonfire. The hiss and crack of flame and smudge of smoke shall stand promise to make this pruning a regular occurrence.

What to keep: row upon row of preserving jars full of love and light and laughter of friends, to be served up regularly in the coming cold, dark months. Jewels of dried tomatoes to give flavour of summer to winter’s stews, along with jewels of pictures painted and drawn to flavour shorter days. Music, ordered and stored in an overflowing pantry: melodies of hot summer morns, harmonies of blissful hours at the swimming hole, grace notes of nights of endless stars. Cool forests, wide expanse of beach and ocean, mountain trails of wild adventure for daily sustenance of body and soul. And, love, oh yes, love, to wrap me in a tender embrace of the beauty and mystery of life.

The winnowing is almost done, and my harvest very nearly stowed, as the month of Elder brings us to the time of the thinning of the veil between the worlds. We honour those who have left us, and take special care of those who are still here…The time of stepping onto the path that leads to the road ahead draws nearer for me, my yearnings yet somewhat inchoate, though no regret for what the flames consume and banish.

I am on my way. Blessed month of Elder to you.

My Love Said

bigstockphoto_Candy_Hearts_3633441

My love said it’s not the way you look at me with love in your eyes, or the way your voice makes my heart melt; it’s the way you put up with me when I am sad and depressed that makes me want you even more; it’s not the way you scold me when I have done wrong or the way you ignore me when I have a bad day, it’s the way you tolerate me when I am lonely that matters.

When I feel sad, or lonely, or have a bad day, you stand in my presence as surely as at other, happier times. Your love and regard for me shine on your face, though perhaps you are kinder and gentler during those trying times. You do not run away from my hurt, or my scolding, and that is an immense courage, my love.

My love said it’s not the way your hair flows in the breeze or the way you walk, it’s the way you smile at me when I fall.

When you fall, I reach out my hand, and my heart, and my soul. Because you have fallen for me, and you are my hero, my love.

My love said it’s not the way you feed me at the dinner table, or get me a beer when I’m watching sport, it’s the way you scorn any that would intrude upon your kindness that makes me yearn for you more.

Yes, you understand that kindness is central to my sense of being, and to offer it up is my gift. And you also see that always I want to offer kindness, even when repaid with lesser, baser coin. Oh, you see what others have missed because you pay attention, my love.

My love said it’s not the way you say “I love you” that gladdens my heart; it’s the way you say “How can I not love you for loving me so much.”

Love ought to be as natural as breathing, though often it becomes complicated with other things; things such as pride, and lack of confidence, and petty misunderstandings. When we let love be, it will shine, my love.

My love said you can tell the world I wrote these things for you.

I have told the world, my love.

Voice

Soft voice, a little nervous, maybe. Mine has faint quaver I can’t control – I listen intently. Feel the hesitation, feel the feeling, feel the energy rippling across thousands of miles of distance. Soft talk, happy laughter. Laughing out loud together feels amazing. Talk is like the most sensitive touch and flows as naturally as breathing. Questions that feel like invitations. Prosaic talk, small talk, edge of frustration: so very intimate and close –  yet so far. Talk of this, talk of that, and everything is right there, contained in that space of voice.

Voice is all, and I exist only in that voice, am contained by that voice. Though it feels not confining; just the opposite. World opens up with that voice. The magic of curiosity, of wanting to discover…new world. Together.

Voice caresses me. Voice envelops me. Late nights, deep into the night listening to that voice. Voice is my all – all beauty, all goodness, all of bright and shining hopeful wonder. Voice is both anchor and goal post.

Voice pushes me, gently. Nudges me into new places. Lays bare my heart, my body, my spirit with sensitivity. Voice softly: I love you.

More softly still, and yet insistently, over and over and over again…

Iloveyou Iloveyou Iloveyou Iloveyou Iloveyou Iloveyou Iloveyou Iloveyou Iloveyou Iloveyou Iloveyou Iloveyou Iloveyou …

I am transported to stars, and shaken to my very centre with this raw power of voice. Be this magic? Be this heaven? Be this dream? Star fire echoes with I love you…

Whatever else it be, your voice is the sweetest gift I have ever known.

Arachne’s Web

Art of Sara Beth Goncarova

Art of Sara Beth Goncarova

Today, my longings are nameless, inchoate, fuzzy, and formless, but pulling me like the tidal wash, never the less. I seek the comfort of the familiar, so here I sit in my favourite nineteen forties library chair, once again, my imaginary friend, sipping a cup of Kick Ass coffee. My thoughts are of Arachne, who was once a beautiful young woman extraordinarily skilled at weaving, according to Greek mythology. She angered the goddess Athene, who transformed her into a spider to weave for all eternity. “Her story of weaving, creating, holding and enclosing can be found in mythologies of peoples all over the world. Thus she is a symbol of our connectedness, the strands of her web transferring the slightest vibrations between us all, a constant reminder that everything we do affects others.”  ( Kozocari, Owens, North: The Witch’s Book Of Days, Beach Holme Press, 1994)

I had planned here to write of kindness, but the image of Arachne’s web will not leave me. Though much has been said and written of kindness lately – random acts of kindness, small acts of kindness, kindness as a means of transforming our world. – it seems to me that what is really being written about are the tremors and vibrations of Arachne’s web, the web that connects us all. I think of something very particular: something I intended as the highest compliment was heard by the recipient as something else entirely, and I caused distress. The pain has radiated back to me: me, who would not harm a fly! For it causes me true and immense pain to be the unwitting and unintended bearer of a hurtful message.

I believe is true that kindness must be a basic building block of our characters, but it seems we must strive for more than kindness. Perhaps a little more sensitivity, for an understanding that where we place our feet heavily may cause vibrations, and might even damage the web. I speak not here of the savage stroke that attempts to obliterate the work of a gifted weaving, but the simple clumsiness that interrupts the warp and weft…

Weaving seems an apt metaphor for how we create friendships, love, community, for both the warp and the weft contribute in equal measure to the fineness and the firmness of the cloth. I suspect, my imaginary friend, that there is a tiny jig in our tapestry, though I hope not a giant rent.  I shall strive with all of my skill to continue the weaving of this beautiful cloth, and to repair and make whole the web. I can do no more, save look at my mistake and reflect upon its importance…May the cloth be made stronger for my willingness to see the flaw.

 

View more of Sarah Beth Goncarova’s art here.