This wet and green May morning I’m sitting in a log cabin next to the Bushkill Creek, drinking coffee, dog by my side, My Best Beloved in the chair by the big window, which is filled with the sweet green leaves of spring. It’s raining today, so green is greener, tree trunks are browner, the moss on them more pronounced. The sense of being surrounded by a protective forest is all the more powerful.
What quiet grace a moment like this is.
We’ve been here for a week and must leave tomorrow, and that’s the only bug-bite of imperfection. I’d stay here forever if I could. The creek, which is more of a river to my mind, runs high this time of year and the sound of it whooshing and swirling around the rocks is a villanelle, a lullaby, a Naiad’s song. The news, which I’ve hardly noticed, is a distant hum, and I suspect if I were able to be here another few weeks, I’d barely hear it at all.
When we first arrived at our rented, temporary paradise we were distraught by the death of a juvenile robin who crashed into the window. The Best Beloved buried her, as is proper. Two more birds after that smacked into the glass but survived. A friend on social media suggested I make silhouettes of hawks and place them to deter our feathered friends. It seems to have worked, but it was certainly a reminder that even here, in this idyllic setting, there is always a spicing of sorrow.
Another friend suggested these fragile little ones were a metaphor for humanity’s careless imposition and destruction of the wild places and wild things. Yes, that’s true. There is always a price to be paid, isn’t there? If I owned this place, there would be screens on all the windows, which I hope would be nothing more than trampolines for my feathered relations. If we’re going to be here, in these healing ‘first cathedrals’ as my friend Sr. Rita calls them, we must tend them, care for the land, protect all those who share the space with us.
And really, imagine what the world would be like if we felt about all land, all space, as being holy and sacred, as I do this place, and as I do my own back garden at home? What if we treated the creatures and the waterways and the soil and the air in, say, Pittsburgh or New York, with the same tender love? What would the cities look like? How would we feel in them? How would we behave?
Since I was a girl I have always dreamed of having a cabin in the woods, near a running stream. I’m over sixty now and I still hope that maybe one day I will.
The healing that place brings: I want for nothing here, have no ambition, wish to be nowhere else, with no one else. My Best Beloved asked me the other day, “If you had only one month to live, what would you do with it?” Why this, of course, exactly what I’m doing. That, surely, is the gift of the forest and the stream and the birds and the bears and chipmunks and the rain and the ground beneath my feet.
The wisest words ever spoken? “This too, shall pass.” So tomorrow, yes, we return to the other parts of our lives, but we will take this place and these creatures and spirits home with us, forever to be joined.
And now, back to listening to the voice of the river harmonize with that of the rain. Wishing you all, wherever you are, a moment of quiet grace.