Glorious Woods

Another gorgeous fall day with the maples in full glory. My drive to pick up Gabe from school was filled with brilliant oranges, reds, and yellows. And in the woods, there was beauty at every turn.

I set out on my walk in Caratunk at a fast clip because I was chilly. Before long, however, I stopped to watch a bird, and then another, and another and another until I realized that I was in the middle of a mixed-species feeding flock of maybe 20 birds, including some darling little kinglets. I was totally captivated! The birds seemed to be traveling along the same path I was walking so I slowed my pace to theirs and ambled along as they flitted from tree to bush. A woodpecker tapped out a rhythm, the nuthatch ran up and down a trunk making its distinctive call, the kinglets sang at a high pitch, and of course, the chickadees added their chicka-dee-dee-dee. 

I finally moved along ahead of the flock and made my way to Monument Rock where my heart always seems to be its most tender. Today the rock held me while I wept, overcome by a big wave of grief for my sweet Halia, who would have turned two around now. Up until now, I have not been willing to let that grief come at Caratunk where everything is so potent for me. Today when it came, I was still afraid but also willing, knowing that I would not drown in it.

On the ground by Monument Rock was an abandoned butterfly net with pinkish purple netting, such a girlie color that seemed to speak straight to my grief about my lost daughter. I picked it up and decided to carry it back to the parking lot, where its owner might be more likely to find it. Plus, it comforted me to have something to hold onto as I let tears fall, as I let each new wave break and dissolve some of the crusty places around my heart.

Taking photos, too, distracted me enough to keep going. Someday I will return to being present only to what is, instead of also to what I might write about or what I want to remember. Someday I will not need to cling to the beauty I see, someday I will again be able to be in these woods with a full and open heart, unafraid of just being. For now, I am grateful to be able to be there at all, grateful for my footsteps on the crunchy leaves, grateful for the smartphone that accompanies me like a well-loved blankie, making me feel a little more secure as I find the courage to put one foot in front of the other and live my life without my daughter.

And then the waves die down, the tears stop flowing, and I return to noticing the beauty all around me, to listen to the sounds of the flock that has caught up with me again. Their cheerful chatter makes me smile and suddenly my stride is lighter and easier again.

Baruch atah adonai eloheynu chey ha-olamim malbish arumim. Blessed are You, the Compassionate, Our God, who clothes the naked.

Blessed are You, the Source of Comfort, our God, who protects and contains us in our tender places.

Baruch atah adonai eloheynu chey ha-olamim hamechin mitzadey gaver. Blessed are You, the Way, Our God, who makes firm a person's footsteps.

Blessed are You, the Omnipresent, Our God, who is with us every step of the way.