Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Cover My Tracks

Mornings are usually difficult for me, but today I woke up at 5:00. Strangely, I felt alert and ready to begin my day. Immediately, I set out to tidy up some unfinished business; school work I left scattered and undone until now.

After three hours in the quiet, typing away on the computer, I suddenly felt sick and needed to get out of the house. I think my spirit needed to re-connect with the earth; to breathe fresh air again, to feel the sunlight on my skin. Homework can wait at least one more hour as I bundle up in my warm clothes and take a long walk in the outdoors.

It snowed last night; the world is quiet and new. Without the sounds of a hectic life to distract my attention, my feelings begin to move, like chunks of ice breaking away from the frozen body of everything I stuffed away. People don't talk about my feelings in polite society; anger, remorse, despair, revenge, bitter frustration; but as I walk among the snow-covered trees, I leave the world of humans behind. The trees never judge. They never laugh, or point, or disapprove. They never tell me I'm wrong to feel the way I do. All the world watches under a blanket of white; so open, so utterly open, and filled with light.

I've walked this path a hundred times, but today I notice things I never saw before. I always thought the field at the bottom of the hill was just one solid mass of vegetation, but the new-fallen snow reveals a network of deer trails, crossing each other and all lit up in white against the brown, sleeping grass.

A new trail calls me to follow the river downstream. Just then, a great blue heron lunges from his perch in the highest branch of a cottonwood tree. He makes a loud, gutteral cackle as he flies away. I realize I've seen dozens of great blue herons in my life, but I never heard one speak until now. The newness of the sound surprises me. As I watch the great bird flying away, another great blue heron appears on the horizon, and then another, and another. They seem to dance as they circle one another and join their voices in a coarse, but haunting song.

As I continued my walk, I came to a large, open field near a pond filled with thousands of ducks and Canadian geese. It reminds me of a dream I once had: the geese sang me a song and told me to not give up on life.

In that exact moment, as I reflected on my dream, seven geese left the flock and began to circle above me. They circled above me over and over again for at least 20 minutes and reminded me of every prayer I ever made for my little family to be restored. They reminded me of every tear I ever shed since losing Anthony and Derrick. They reminded me of every time I thought my life was over, but then some miracle brought me back from the edge of despair; of every time I thought I had nothing left to live for, but then I remembered the tender faces of my children looking toward me to show them beauty in this world. I heard them calling me as they circled, and all I could do was stand there in the open field and weep.

So many times I asked them to make my life the way it was before, but today I raised my voice and said:

"Spirit; give me wisdom to know the difference between right and wrong. Give me wisdom to know when to hold on and when to let go. Give me wisdom to know how to hold on when it's time to hold on, and how to let go when it's time to let go."

I walked home cleansed and refreshed, and I remembered my father saying he began a new year every time the snow fell. "The snow covers my tracks," he said, "Everything that was past, is gone now, and everything starts new."

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