Saturday, 19th June 2021
I woke up to composing a poem in the early morning on the balcony. Being kissed by the muses is always a blessing, especially when they come in more-than-human form. The poem expressed an ongoing transformation in me, a shift in priorities, a desire for time in nature, a calling towards solitude, the dawning of a deeper kind of mystical knowing.
I made breakfast. Annika woke up late and ate only little as she was not feeling too well. We fitted her bike into the spacious trunk of the car and went to Kollmar beach, where we found a tree that provided shade and grounding. After a delightfully refreshing swim in the Elbe river at high tide (we didn’t know that later that evening, a 9-year-old girl tragically drowned on the very same beach, likely at lower tide), Annika made a discovery while leaning against the trunk.
“When you lean back like this for a while, the tree appears to be much larger”, she said.
I tried it too, with similar results. When viewed from the ‘outside’, the tree appeared to have its normal size, just as you would perceive it. Yet leaning against the trunk, feeling the support of this old being, looking skywards into its crown of branches and leaves, it appeared vast to both of us … even majestic.
Annika suggested getting fish sandwiches, which helped me fulfill the unspoken commandment that thou shalt eat a fish sandwich in Hamburg. We also bought freshly harvested local cherries before heading toward Glückstadt. Despite its promising name this town felt rather unspectacular, so we sought a different route closer to the water. Getting lost is almost always a good choice. Now it led us through lush green vegetation to a dead end and a herd of sheep. Annika the Sheep Whisperer offered them water, but the sheep didn’t seem particularly impressed. Yet she made another discovery as she keenly observed how the sheep took turns in providing shade for each other. The herd looks after its kin without arguing.
To get to Annika’s self-made garden house, we took the scenic route through Wedel and woods on the outskirts of Hamburg. Along the way, Annika suggested that I could invite Y to join us there and/or for a later walk along the Elbe river. “It’s always good to have data”, she argued. I agreed, and I also observed inner resistance. We took a break in the woods. I pondered for a while. Do I really want this? Do I want it today? Do I fear rejection?
Eventually curiosity won. I called – no response – then texted. Y declined, as I had anticipated, yet I was happy to notice that it didn’t hurt much. Besides, Annika and I got enmeshed in Hamburg’s Friday afternoon traffic. But if there’s a will there’s a way, and when one’s mind is set and determined, all paths are eventually leading to Annika’s garden house.
We climbed through the roof window and stood atop, then pumped water from a well (old school!) to water the garden plants. Annika took her bike and went to a social soccer viewing with friends, while I stayed behind in the shade of the garden house for a Zoom session with Mark Matousek’s “The Seekers Forum” writing circle. As fate would have it, today’s writing prompts fit my journey to a tee. Here is a sample:
- How do you show bravery in your life?
- Where do you withhold love today? What specific fears drive you to do so?
- Where does pride get in the way? How does trust play a role for you?
Boy, did I have something to write and to share in the Q&A! The coexistence of (1) a genuine desire and appreciation for freedom and solitude, and (2) a genuine longing for connection and the expression of love, can seem paradoxical, even irreconcilable. I have obviously chosen a life of seeking such realms of paradox, perhaps in order to reconcile them – although admittedly, skillful navigation in these realms does not always present itself as straightforward. Mark’s response was clear and compassionate as always. Two ravens appeared right afterwards. But of course!
On the drive back, I needed to go practically “blind” as the GPS wasn’t working for some reason. Yet I already knew the way. It amazes me how after only 1-2 expositions to a new environment, our cognitive system can actually remember it well enough to navigate therein. (For the pen & paper roleplayers: my W100 on “street lore” was successful.)
I remembered a sign pointing towards a parking lot in the woods, leading the willing adventurer to a path along Holmer Grenzweg. I was such a willing one. There was plenty of daylight left. I walked slowly and admired the oak trees on both sides. At some point, I began to wonder if they knew about the stars. What if I told them the stories I knew?
When to the new eyes of theeFrom ‘The Mistress of Vision‘ by Francis Thompson
All things by immortal power,
Near or far,
To each other linkèd are,
That thou canst not stir a flower
Without troubling of a star …
I began reciting the second half of the poem From ‘The Mistress of Vision’ by Francis Thompson, slowly, slowly, feeling each word, beholding oak and beech with reverence. Before reaching the end of the poem, my whole state of consciousness had shifted. I felt like treading a sacred realm that had always been there, and only now was my entire being completely and utterly immersed in it.
I walked on until I stood before a very tall and presumably old oak on the left side of the path. We shared space for a long while. I said my name and declared my intention. I recited the whole poem again from beginning to end. Oak listened.
I told Oak about Cedar who lives on the lands of an area that we humans mostly refer to as Seattle. I shared, in whispers and mostly in thought, about humanity, human cultures and history as we know them, science and technology, telescopes and spacecraft. I shared all that I knew about all that we know as a human species, about distant stars that twinkle when one stirs a flower and even when Oak grows.
I acknowledged the heavy price that we pay and inflict upon the more-than-human world, and how many of Oak’s kin had to perish for us living our story of progress, and how many more beings had to perish alongside them. I wept for all of us, for all of our kins. These weren’t tears of guilt or shame. These were tears of knowing and feeling directly.
Oak listened. It seemed that this time it was my turn to share from the heart, and to be received by Oak’s unwavering presence.
Back home a candlelight dinner for one awaited, with more pasta and a glass of wine to conclude a long day on the balcony – marking the first half of this journey. The second half would inevitably lead me much deeper.
I have come here for this. I am ready.
Soundtrack of the day:
Wardruna – “Kvitravn”