Forest Bathing in Five Pieces

In the woods in the late afternoon I become

(myself)

(a thin place).

Mind unclenched, heart at ease, and nothing in this spacious overflowing, nothing but sighing the words ‘thank you’ – the wholly adequate prayer of Meister Eckhardt – seems either apt or necessary.

*

 

When the petals of the grand-finale cherry blossom, the yaezakura, have made a nice thick carpet on the ground, that’s when the mauve wisteria begin declaiming their poetry. When the tide of green’s inexorable and there is no turning back, the azalea explode into colourful hurrahs and the nightingales, in forest amphitheatres countrywide, give concerts, belting out thrilling, trilling resurrection songs. In through the ears this heart–magic weaves.

 

*

Ladybugs and butterflies have found me a worthy landing strip. Upon my light green shoe, nine ‘eyes’ gaze from a wing for a long, quiet time into mine. I am gentled by this creature.

Drawn upward by sudden movement, I see three large black butterflies engaged in an energetic twirling, this way and that, moving cursively across the arc of my field of his vision. This is a language I cannot grasp – what is going on? I’m thinking of Bartok or Schoenburg in the manner of: it’s piano music; I’ve heard piano music before, but this, this is nothing like that. It’s somehow out of reach; it does not conform. Around and around they whirl and loop, a calligraphic sky–writing to which I cannot attune.

Before long they leave through an opening in the trees and my forest stage is cleared, returned to the consoling simplicity of the breeze. The setting sun illuminates some hot pink hurrahs on the periphery.

*

The three wild butterflies in their choreographed spring cadenza have me thinking about the Trinity and the write-ups I’ve been reading recently from a recent CAC (Center for Action and Contemplation) conference. This line of Cynthia Bourgeault’s, “Work in the world is not going to drain you down, unless you become identified with it” has me mulling over the way one identifies with work, and I wonder if this is aggravated by operating in a culture infamous for its workaholism? I’m thinking of Ryan Avent’s piece, too, that I’d read earlier in the day, on work. But I’m not thinking too hard about it. After all, this is a holiday.

*

I begin my walk back from the forest on the foothills, across the fields to the riverside. The sun is low in the sky, shining below the rim of my hat. The air is cool, I wear a light sweat. Exultant swallows dart over the green barley; the sparrows seem more delighted by pecking away in the bare grey-beige fields which have lines inscribed, curved and straight, ploughed, smooth, beautiful, ready. They await activation after a season lying fallow by the germinated rice seedlings coming soon to the Sowing Circles of the now mostly ancient farming folk.

*

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The Everyday

It’s ‘Golden Week’ in Japan and I have a longer than (conventionally) long weekend. I’m reading @LizStrout My Name is Lucy Barton and @Patrick_Ness A Monster Calls presently. Each I’m finding a gracious influence. Doing laundry this morning, I wrestled with the clothes that had gotten twisted in the washer, becoming aware of myself hurrying to get them out onto the line, for no particular reason other than to be done with it. A memory flashed into my mind of the slow and simple pleasure of doing a wash and hanging it out in the gifted last months of a dear friend’s life on This Side. 

Taking time for the quotidian, it seems to me, is easily overlooked but adds immensely to being present in our days. I’d go as far as to say that living well requires it.