Nora is very clear about where she wants to go this morning. At each fork in the trail, she confidently leads the way. We’re on the path that follows and dead ends at the brook and instead of turning back today, we pick up the much narrower trail that continues to follow the brook. Eventually that too ends and the barely discernible beaten path now begins to rise along a steep incline. The path is following the girth of this particular mound of forested earth while simultaneously rising so it is a surprise to turn around and see how precariously we are hovering over the brook.
Walking this path produces the sensation of circling the mountain rather than climbing it as if the mountain is supporting the climb this way. Just as this awareness sinks in, I find myself standing at the prow of a ship. The path has leveled off to the point of an outcropping that falls away dramatically in each direction, except for where it turns and continues level into the woods. So clear is this sensation of being at the farthest point of solid ground with an ocean in front of me that I stretch out my arms and think silently, “I am king of the world!” Smile. And then follow Nora back into the woods.
The path quickly brings us back to the Robert Frost trail and I know exactly where I am now. It is a spectacular morning. The clarity and quality of sound and air is exquisite. I feel expansive. Content. Open to beyond. Supported. Most mornings I am focused in the circle of energy that is formed between me and Nora moving together through the sights and sounds in a particular space and that has been just right. But this morning the circle has become huge. It includes sounds from beyond like beeping trucks, train whistles, and barking dogs far away. I take in scents from the rushing waters below, and experience a brilliance of sight that has me now paying attention to every detailed nuance of color and texture.
What is far is as near as what is near.
The words ‘big ball’ come to me and I think of how my yoga teacher leads us into a place of sublime support with this image. Lying on our backs, we are instructed to lift our arms as if holding a big ball while relaxing as much of our scapula and shoulder girdle as we can comfortably. We let our arms float to the floor while keeping these vulnerable and often constricted places in our back relaxed. In this, we are creating a base of support to relax our heart into. With this support, all movement and awareness becomes possible.
We come to the turn off for the ridge line of the loop we have hiked many times now. Nora doesn’t hesitate, makes the turn, and leads me up to one of my favorite stretches of the trail
and the big ball of empathic space has just gotten even bigger. I do feel supported. It’s not a kind of support that has definition that could ever be replicated. It is in the feeling of this plain and ordinary stretch of trees in front of me that exude peace. It is in the way I feel when I see Nora literally leaping through the forest one moment, then presenting her beautiful body to me in stillness and affirmation of presence, for just a fraction of a second before taking off again. It is in the way I feel when the sun reaches down through the trees and fills me with warmth. It is in right now as I look down
and see heart even in the forgotten moss covered hollowed out stump of a tree that still supports the path I am walking on with its ancient roots…