Lately my mind has been more quiet than usual, and it feels a little unnatural to try to draw myself out of that silence in order to write something. For the first time in my adult life, I don't have a lot of thoughts crowding my mind. For no outwardly identifiable reason, I feel peaceful in a way that I haven't before, and I'm grateful.
I am still doing the usual every day things. I go to the studio, I go to the office. I teach my classes. I give massages. I feel fully present in my work, and in my household tasks, errands, etc. As soon as my responsibilities have been taken care of, an undeniable draw to go to the woods seems to overtake me. There are some nature trails near my home that I have always enjoyed visiting during any time of the year when it is not too hot, buggy, or muggy. Lately the draw to this place has increased exponentially. Trees, leaves, and vines seem to beckon me with their springly announcement of renewal, radiating that quiet yet vibrant peace that is their medicine.
Nearly every day, I ride out to the trails to walk, sit, and commune with nature. I watch leaves fall, one by one, from the trees. I encounter snakes, birds, squirrels, turtles, teeny tiny grasshoppers, skinks, anoles, and numerous others.
I spend a good amount of my time there in what I would call open-eyed meditation. Sometimes I sit, sometimes I lie down and stare up at the canopy of green. I probably appear crazy or borderline catatonic to passersby, staring out with my gaze unfocused, face neutral, completely still. In the past, I might have felt a need to animate myself enough to smile or nod as people passed so as not to appear weird. These days, I don't bother to disturb my weird self. I'm pretty sure it looks like "no one's home".
Perhaps it is also weird that I have formed a friendship with a tiny heart-shaped leaf that I discovered one day while sitting under a couple of trees. I am particularly fond of pairs of trees that grow close together because it always looks to me as though they are dancing or embracing; or at the very least, good friends. I find this especially endearing when the two are not of the same species. On a trail called "Coke Can", there is a pine tree who has taken up company with a magnolia. This odd couple provides me with a beautiful skyscape to stare at as I lie on the ground, slack-faced in my newfound quietude. For me, this is way better than TV...
One day, after laying under those two trees staring up at the pine needles glistening in the breeze, and listening to the magnolia leaves playing their rattle-rustle percussion music, I returned to a seated position and my eyes happened upon a single, bright green heart-shaped leaf that had pushed up through the carpet of dried pine straw and magnolia leaves. It was putting off such a cheerful vibe that I found myself saying "Oh, Hi!" Right out loud. With an exclamation point. To a leaf. I sat for a few more minutes, smiling in appreciation of the little sprout before rising to continue my walk.
A few days later, when I returned to sit under those two trees, I laid down in the same spot and remembered my little heart-shaped pal. I looked but did not find it at first, so I carefully removed some layers of pine straw and magnolia leaves from the spot where I remembered seeing it. It was still under there, alive and bright. I like to think that maybe I did the little plant a favor by putting it back in the way of the sun's rays. I have gone back a few more times to that spot to sit and re-dis-cover the leaf.
Maybe the reason I am so fond of this little sprout is that it reminds me a little of myself. I am slowly but surely growing towards the light. Sometimes things fall on me, and the light becomes a little more dim, but I know which direction is up. Sometimes I rely on others to help me see the light. Neither I or my little leaf friend can really take the credit for our growth. There is no need to "figure it out". Our unfolding happens all on its own, a natural process. Grace unfolds us.
We are along for the ride.
We both had to spend some time in darkness, until the moment when we cracked open, grew some roots, and began to unfold. Being of this earth, we stay rooted in the fecundity of that darkness, growing down as well as up and out.
Lately I have frequently found myself silently communicating to trees, leaves, vines, and other plants, as well as animals (other than my cat, who I've been unabashedly talking to for almost a decade). Mostly what I have to say is: I love you. You are beautiful. Thank you. When I say this to them, I am also saying it to myself, to the earth, and to the thing that language fails to capture with words like God, Spirit, Universe, or Divine, which is all of those things, and none of those things, and everything. I don't feel the least bit crazy while sending these telepathic transmissions to the plants. In fact, I feel a whole hell of a lot more sane than I ever did the thousands of times that I walked past them with smoke coming out of my ears as my mind chewed on all of the things it perceived as important, almost none of which had to do with the moment at hand.
This is what I have to share today. A love story starring myself and a leaf.
Myself and nature. Myself and the Earth. Myself and everything.
I feel vulnerable and a little uncomfortable putting it "out there", in the way that one feels upon realizing that a former and possibly "cooler" version of herself would have found her current self laughable. That former self is not here today. I cannot connect to her, and honestly, I don't want to.
I love you. You are beautiful. Thank you. That is all.