Sitting on top of the ridge. The gentle warmth of the setting sun mingling with my body heat. The cloak of night, with a waning moon hung from its tip, rises up my back. I have just had the wonderful fortune of spending two weeks in solo retreat in the Spanish hills. Being caretaker of the beautiful off grid home belonging to some friends. A place where my teacher once hosted meditation retreats. I have been in this remote valley in the company of six cats, five chickens and two cheeky goats...
Resting on the ground in the mountains recently, across the stream from a family of cows who lay gathered there, a shriek turned my gaze skyward to where Golden Eagle soared. It felt so good to be in the company of Cows and Eagle. The grace of their presence melted me and I lapped it up. Falling deeply inside myself. It felt like peace and ease, something falling from my shoulders and down my arms and back. A fruit swelling and ripening inside my chest.
While living in Nazi occupied Holland during WW2, a Jewish woman named Etty Hillesum stayed close to what was beautiful and shares her wisdom with us through her private letters and journals. In a letter written inside a concentration camp she wrote: "Despite everything, life is full of beauty and meaning."
After days of storms I came down to the river. To the place where I sit and listen and sing. Uprooted trees are strewn all around and the long grass lies flat, combed by the current that must have got that high in recent days. Golden scales of a marooned fish glisten from the smooth wet mud. My feet leave deep hollows.
Walking through a glade of oaks with golden leaves, I heard a sound. Tap....tap....tap. 'What is that sound?' Oh it’s acorns dropping from high high up in the branches onto the ground near me. My feet crunch over the carpet of acorns. They squish into the soft earth. Leaves gather in heaps all around streets and buildings. Pomegranates splatter all over the road, brown and rotting. Seeds spill out all over the place.
Swallows swooped and whistled, insects settled, and an eagle glided high above. The light on the hill across the valley drew up a veil of shadow from the ground. My breath was music through my flute and the sound of my footsteps a drum beat that soothed me. Nothing grand or spectacular seemed to happen in the month I spent alone off-grid in the wild. It was remarkably simple and easy.
Water pours from a crack in the rocks near here. Maiden’s hair and mint cluster around the opening. I love to scoop water to my thirsty mouth and hot face directly from it. Just imagining myself doing that even feels good. What is that feeling? Coolness, Freshness, Vitality, Immediacy, Simplicity?
After some time lying down alongside the shoreline recently, really close to the water’s edge in a secluded rocky bay, I sat up and peered into the sea. Gently pulsating there was a pink jellyfish. So close. Moving even closer, I could see her movement was created by some meeting between the momentum of lapping waves and her own pulse. As though sea and jelly form had been together for so long that they had taken on each other’s ways. A marriage of wave and pulse.
Standing alone in the forest the other day, it felt good to be in the company of trees. I resisted the urge to continue walking, and stayed for a long time. I can still feel that experience in my body. A gentle swaying and creaking. A sense in my own axis - spine, spinal cord, gut tube – of nourishment and warmth. Soft, light, dewy heartwood. Spending a whole day in near silence, beside a lake recently was also pretty cool. Allowing myself to be in the presence of the lake, in communion,...
Sitting underneath a huge stone placed here by the people of the Pyrenees thousands of years ago, I was surprised at how weightless the mass above me felt. Like it was floating. The giant capstone touches the stones beneath in just a few places, so that there is a lot of space around the edges where light comes in and I can see trees and sky outside. Of course the slab of stone above me is actually super heavy and I can only wonder at the effort needed to move it here. I wonder at the momentum...