(A story of gratitude)
Standing silent and alone, just off a ridge crest on a flat stone outcropping in a grove of white oaks, I saw them, as they gathered near the river.
Their faces took shape, it seemed, from the gently drifting breeze dancing like river eddies among the pines and hardwoods anchored in the bottomland soil, some with roots that reached from the steeply sloping bank to waters’ edge.
Emerging forms moved in unison with the autumn air, turned pastel with the paint of leaves, downward drifting to their sabbath rest on the forest floor.
To my mind, they were familiar, but I could place no names. Though moving, they were silent, like the rippling coat of a deer running through the hills and hollows of its wooded home.
Their presence brought an air of antiquity, of lives that had always existed somewhere. Yet youthful spirits skipped among them, as well, like adventurous children emerging from an old, abandoned wood-frame house.
Like a Sanskrit circle, the gathering had an aura of utter completion within itself, a universal embracing of life in all its facets, without blurring any of the faces swirling in this forest dance.
Training all my senses upon the ineffable scene unfolding before me, I felt a sense of belonging and hope; a warm and satiated joy like the love of a mother came over my spirit, and I began to feel a stirring deep within to the rhythm of the river and its brother wind.
Yet mingled with this undeniable joy, a sadness came, hand in hand. I wanted to cry, and to be held by the mysterious elders bowing beneath the shadows of oaks, primeval.
Time passed; I’ve no idea how long. The gathering seemed to fade into the colors of the forest canopy from whence it came. Shadows and spirits, once intertwined, now unmingled, leaving outstretched arms and open hands…or were they simply the appendages of limbs angled against an autumn sky?
Standing upon my rock in a state of serenity and peace, I pondered the meaning of this place and all its gatherings, then left with gratitude for the simple enormity of grace, and the ever-open invitation to partake.