Thursday, March 22, 2007
do no harm
for E, a new friend and fellow river rock borrower
During this hour of silent walking meditation she had two tasks - to find an object to bring back to the altar and to discover what her intent was for this retreat weekend. Since her favorite sound was rushing water she meandered toward the river. She knew she couldn't take that sound back with her so she decided a river rock could represent it, plus she loved their simple beauty. There was a plate full of polished ones on her coffee table at home. She walked along the bank looking for just the right spot, the place where she could reach a small rock without having to actually get in the water. She didn't want soggy sneakers. (She'd recently figured out that her enneagram number was 9 after all, so comfort's a big deal to her.) Eventually she find the perfect place and gingerly made her way through the not-too wet-but-still kinda-slippery mud and scooped up her prize. She dipped the rock back into the river to wash off the mud. Then she rolled it around in her hand feeling its smoothness. It was the color of sand with spots of gray. A small area was orangey and ran against a black strip covering about a quarter of the edge. She thought how beautiful this rock was and turned it over to reveal that the black strip continued and the colors ranged from greenish with black spots back to sandy gray on the far edge. Her hands, as well as the stone, were wet and she wanted to put her treasure in the pocket of her burnt orange corduroys before she walked back to the lodge, so she decided that drying it would be a splendid idea.
Earlier she had noticed a fallen log positioned between two trees in such a way as to make a good seat. She sat down on the log chair - it adjusted itself under her weight - and laid the rock in the sunlight next to her. She removed a cliff bar from her pocket and munched quietly, it had been a while since lunch and several hours until dinner. While she enjoyed the black cherry goodness she thought about setting her intent. She was grateful to be able to be present in this moment, to enjoy the sounds of the river, to be soothed by them, to pay attention to them. So many times in the past she'd had revelations or tiny epiphanies when she simply got still and paid attention. And then she knew that was her intent - to pay attention. Her cliff bar was long gone by this time, its wrapper was safely tucked in her pocket, and the sun-facing side of the rock was dry so she turned it over. She noticed a tiny insecty critter on the rock and immediately began to worry that she was taking his home with her to the lodge. What to do, what to do, she wondered. She stopped, got still and paid attention. The answer that came to her was return Mr. Critter to the river so she did. (The answers usually are that simple when you really listen.) She picked up a tiny twig and managed with much finagling to get the insect onto it. She carried him back to the river and onto a rock. She was worried that she'd screwed up the bug's life and promised herself that she'd return this rock to the Ivy River on Sunday afternoon before she left for home.
Two days later the retreat was over. She'd done lots of new things - had a massage, took a yoga class, and read her work for the first time. The encouragement she'd received was phenomenal. She was starting to feel like maybe she could be a writer after all. She'd connected with amazing, wise, talented, soulful women. Before she packed her bags to leave she'd found E, the first person she'd met upon her arrival on Friday, who had also brought a river rock to the altar. They had decided that they'd journey back to the river together and return their rocks. Their new friend, C, came along. As they walked down the hill they saw two fellow retreaters, K and R, returning from the river. She explained to them what they were doing and K thanked them for taking the rocks home; she'd been unable to bring something to the altar because she couldn't bear to tamper with Nature. The three going to the river said goodbye to the two heading back to pack their cars. She and E tried to retrace their steps from retreat day 1. They both wanted to place the rocks where they'd taken them from. She was pretty sure she had found the right spot and as she returned the rock she thanked the river for lending it to her. The women arrived back at the lodge about the same time as K and R were leaving. C was already packed and ready to leave so the three hugged and wished each other safe travels. She felt like a sap as she held in the tears that were threatening to fall. C drove away and then the first two to arrive were the only two left. E finished packing first and came to say goodbye. They both got teary and then said how sure they were that they would meet again.
She was exhausted and knew she'd better leave soon or she's poop out on her 3-hour drive home. She was pleased to be the last to leave; it seemed right to her somehow. After she loaded the car she took one last look around at the beauty surrounding her. She was peaceful. She uttered a thank you to Bend of Ivy Lodge for another wonderful retreat. She knew she would return soon.