It was a lazy summer this year. Though I love the warmth of it more as I age, the humidity tends to drain me. At least it makes for a good excuse to not get much done. With the exception of one trip south, I hovered pretty close to home. It just made sense to be here.
The interior landscape was subdued as well, marked by the passing of my dearest one’s son to a heroin overdose on July 1st. Walking through this with her has proven to be a calling of sorts; one to which we seem to have been rather perfectly drawn. Few are the couples I know of who share the loss of their first-born sons. She had always wondered what that was like for me. Now she knows. She also knows she is not alone (see This Is The Day, 7/9/19). Since then, I’ve witnessed her profound and authentic grief, infused with a transcendent grace that announces its blessing with the simple truth…only Love matters. It set a reflective tone for the season.
I walked daily of course, but pretty much stayed out of the woods. The last big walk I did was over the Memorial Day weekend which I discussed here (Walking Home, 5/29/19). A big walk for me is in the 10 to 15 mile range, compared to the usual five to seven mile variety. When this past Saturday (10/19) dawned sunny and cool with a gentle breeze, it left me little choice. Although I’d previously attempted to arrange a ramble with a fellow writer / hiker, it was not to be. I set off alone for a big walk.
Unable to find a loop of sufficient length, I chose an out-and-back route on the northern end of the Mattatuck Trail, an old favorite of mine. In addition to being visually stunning, I also knew it was generously blazed; an important consideration when the trail can be completely hidden beneath fallen leaves. This is especially true on the southern end of the route where it is quite technical and narrow.
There was something wonderful about standing before the trail head at the outset of a long walk on a perfect autumn day…a sense of promise, a sense of being able to walk forever. After a few miles shushing through leaves with a good solid trail underfoot, the interior life awakened and a theme emerged.
Today’s was forgiveness. Forgiveness of self. The hardest forgiveness there is. A life of 63 years can’t be lived without error, without acts of commission or omission that cause harm. So for many miles of this walk through this beautiful place, I ruminated on things not so beautiful, and I wondered about them in strictly earthly terms of cause and effect and human relationships. I became mesmerized by all of it, surprised that even after previous searching inventories, it still held sway over me.
I found a place at the edge of a perfect, still pond and took a break for lunch. The rumination continued until I was suddenly reminded of some words that came to me while writing a few weeks ago. I wondered at the time if they even fit the rest of the piece (see A Few Things, 10/1/19). Art is not linear. Here it is again…makes more sense to me now.
The vail falls across my eyes
A lifetime passes and then
The vail lifts and once more
The dreamed remembers he is the dreamer.
From a beautiful place along the Mattatuck Trail, offered with prayers of our forgiveness…