By Elizabeth Reeke
“home: any place of residence or refuge.” –
Gathering steam right from the beginning,
environmental disasters, one on the heels of another,
intense social and political turmoil,
deepening divisions all across the globe,
and then, along came COVID.
Loss, grief, anger, heart-wrenching sadness,
stifled hopes, emotional exhaustion;
a year feeling more like a lifetime
than a finite number of days,
stretching every idea of what a self or a life might be
to the farthest limits.
Were we all changing in unfathomable ways?
Wasn’t there a real life and a real self,
regular events to mark their unfolding?
The very fabric of life seemed ever rewoven;
with days of uncertainty, impermanence, and the unknown,
came flurries of memory, imagination, and improvisation,
leaving me reaching and grasping for an elusive self.
Some things were familiar;
each morning rising early, before the sun,
ablutions and quiet mind,
only the sound of falling water from the courtyard;
then out to find the moon, the stars,
sometimes a planet would be visible;
this day the moon overhead, almost full,
obscured by passing clouds but emerging clear and bright,
drawing me into the huge expanse.
Familair memories came too;
feet breaking through crusted powder in snowy woods,
honking, splashing, flapping geese rising for flight,
misty mornings in the redwoods,
the mammoth, looming rocks of Stonehenge,
sheep grazing on windswept moors,
hummingbirds and fireflies and fields of lupine,
such a crazy sweet love for the earth!
Have you ever heard the call of the loon?
sometimes sad, mournful,
often haunting and unearthly,
deeply moving, commanding the stillness;
feeling like my own self calling out from just beyond what is known,
shifting light and shadow,
now this, now that,
but never quite apart from the moon and the stars,
the crashing oceans and towering redwoods.
Along my morning routes I’ve found the sheltering cover of forests,
trails meandering along streambeds where turtles and tadpoles
could be found,
tiny, thorny rosebushes clinging to rocky shorelines
just above the tidepools,
all the exquisite beauty and intricate harmony of our earth
offering refuge in a world of chaos and uncertainty,
inspiring awe and resilience and ever new possibilities;
while that deep bond between humankind and the earth, formed through
all the ages, reaches beyond questions and answers,
a hint perhaps of the eternal Tao.
Copyright © 2021 by Elizabeth Reeke.