A few weeks ago I stumbled upon a magical place. I was walking the creek that runs along a main state route, when I turned a corner and saw another creek feeding into it. It didn’t look very promising at first- an old tire and brush clogged the middle of it, and it appeared to be a dead end. But I glimpsed the creek wall, carved down over time, exposing the roots of a few 100 year old hemlock trees and they were rather breathtaking. I went over to have a closer look, and found the water bended around and it was not a dead end.
The roots reminded me of a recent conversation with a family friend. He spoke of old forests with vast underground systems of tree roots interwoven together over time. It is as if all the trees have merged to form one larger organism, the Forest. What a beautiful picture of what human community can become, and of how we can view ourselves in relation to others. I have been meditating on the concept of Oneness lately. I see so many of my difficulties and frustrations in relating to others is derived from my viewing them as so different and separate from myself. In reality, they mirror my very same efforts to have my needs met. Can I see the world the way they see it? Can I empathize? Can I walk in their shoes? When I can, I find common ground in our humanity, and relational difficulties become objective rather than fueled by often irrational emotions and perceptions. In the objectivity, solutions become clear and goodwill is allowed to build bridges where once great impediments existed.
Following that branch of the stream a short ways, I came upon this waterfall.
So far the creek had been very shady, with sheaths of tiny-needled hemlock branches providing a hazy canopy, their fairy-sized pinecones dropping everywhere. Now a beam of light reaches the stone ledge and the water, sunbeam-tipsy, plunges down.
If that wasn’t magical enough, I notice a stand of plants to the right of the waterfall. A flash of knowing came over me, and I just knew it was mugwort. I had been hoping to find wild mugwort for almost a year, after I read it was considered a panacea for all evils, and notably is said to bring you vivid dreams if you put it under your pillow.
Well, it surely did bring vivid dreams, but they were rather disturbing. My friend Ronda presented me with this paper bag labeled “Sweet Dreams”. It was full of chamomile and and lavender from her garden. She thought that it would make a good addition to the mugwort, and ensure vivid nice dreams!
I planted chamomile in my garden for the first time this year, but it hasn’t grown up yet. When I saw it for the first time in Ronda’s gift, I realized I had wild chamomile, or “pineapple weed”, growing all over and alongside our gravel driveway! Wild chamomile has been used for a myriad of things: insect repellant, treatment for intestinal worms, gastrointestinal upset, infected sores, and postpartum anemia. It is also mildly sedative and the flowers are edible (although they become bitter as the plant ages) and when dried are used for tea. The flowers smell like pineapples, and the bruised or sun-warmed leaves smell like ripe apple (Wikipedia).
We came to the waterfall for our Waldorf-inspired homeschool co-op (we love each other too much to part for the summer!).
The rock formations here are predominately shale. One of the children says it looks like “alligator skin”. It does impress easily, remembering the ripples of water and containing fossils galore. I love the way it has thin layers, which can often be peeled by hand.
The children enjoyed excavating “ancient (tiny) ruins” along the ledge. The shale crumbles as they pry it away.
These fossils intrigued us.
The children found they could use rocks to draw on other rocks.
Mama Monica found a rock that looked very much like the sole of a foot, which inspired this rock art…
I wonder what these two plants are?
Before we left, I couldn’t resist sitting under the waterfall, soggy sundress and all…
This has become a favorite spot. Even when I can’t come here by myself to meditate, it is a spot I imagine myself in when I do.
As I exhale, I release all thoughts of the past or present and tell myself there is nothing I need to do except “be”. This permission I offer myself is a portal to a new dimension. I relax into the ground beneath me, and I imagine being completely melted into it until I am the dust of the earth- that living framework which holds all things together. As a tiny particle, the world now magnifies itself to me and I experience Life as a tidal wave, so strong and huge and flowing. I accept a Gift from the universe, its Maker, and its co-creators- an Omnipotent Effort To Do Me Good.
Now I envision myself as a pulse of light. I thrill in the dance of the cosmos- The rhythm of my planet’s revolution. The pull of the moon is like the grasp of a dancing partner. The clouds parade on their sky stage. The breathy excitement of the wind whirls past me. The buzz I feel from this exact air, with its perfectly appointed pressure and vapor content, is intoxifying. I hear the song of a billion living beings- breathing, talking, laughing; each vibrating at a frequency of the total sum of all their experiences, choices, and destinies. I find my own pulse, and drink it in until I feel half-drowned in pleasure; as if I have pin-pointed exactly what it is that makes me me. It is not what I do that makes me who I am, but who I am that determines what I do. So I will be love, and I will be joy, and I will be never-ending faith in goodness.