I rise early, hop in my car, and drive up into the mountains. I've worn my new hiking boots indoors long enough and am ready now to take to the trail, setting both footwear and spirit free after months of dreary spring weather.
The sky is a mix of sun and clouds, perfect for bringing out the rich textures of this land, vibrant now in shades of green. After a twisty drive on a washboard of a gravel road, I park at the familiar trailhead, pile on layers against the chill and whipping wind, retie my boot lacings, and begin walking upward, light pack on my shoulders. A waning moon looks on, fading into blue near a peak covered in snow.
Snow clumps in crevices along the trail as well and, occasionally, on the path itself. At 11,000 feet, the trees have not yet budded, and the air is thin. The only sounds are the soughing of the wind high in the trees and my hard~working lungs. My preoccupations have left me, as I knew they would. Footfall follows footfall, and I am at peace amid a natural world pulsing with vitality.
The path rises further and snowmelt adds another sound, insistent and joyful, as it tumbles down rocky slopes. Rivulets, both small and robust, cross the trail several times. My steps become more precise as I skirt water or move from rock to rock.
The path takes a sharp turn around an outcropping of pine, and I see that the trail ahead is buried in snow for several yards. As I cross this, sinking up to my knees, I realize the risk in continuing on alone. I stop and reach out to whatever assorted benevolent forces might take an interest in this woman, alone on a mountain. Sensing that all will be well, particularly as I have cellphone reception even here (arggh!), I continue on.
The trail, though, is now mostly clear as it moves out into alpine meadows dotted with tiny flowers of yellow, white and purple. Amazing in their tenacity, they bend in the wind or flow over rocky mounds close to the ground. Finally, I arrive at ridge line. Beauty stretches out before me, impossibly grand for a measly half~hour's climb. Deep gratitude rushes through me.
My summer's sitting spot, weathered log beneath a cluster of wind~break trees, is buried now in a pile of waist~high snow. I find another protected seat, take off my boots, wiggle my toes. As I eat a late breakfast, the rambunctious wind chases clouds across the sky and drowns out all other sound.
Suddenly, the blowing stops. Silence is all, but for the trill of an unseen but hardy bird.
In this moment, I have no need for cushions or meditation chimes. Our sweet and ever~giving Earth opens me to wonder and a felt experience of the Divine, so easily perceived in this place. I drink it deeply. Then I lace up my boots, knowing we both have been christened with the holiness of the wild, and turn back toward home.
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May you be christened this day, ears attuned to the voice of the Divine in whatever guise.