I have been waiting a while now for the earth to wake up. The fresh morning air, thick with dew, feels almost heavy in my lungs as it cleanses and helps awaken my senses. Nearby, the forest is slowly coming to life as the faintest hint of light bleeds across the sky. The squirrels are dancing through the trees, leaping and scurrying. Their quick, jerky movements seem too chaotic amid the morning’s calm. But the sweet chirping and singing of the birds is a soothing, natural antidote to the antics of the squirrels. On the horizon, brilliant pinks and oranges are heralding trumpets, announcing the arrival of the sun, and foretelling of a new day.
When Jacob had asked me to come along on this heritage journey, I had no idea how much I needed to be here. I won’t lie, the thought of spending three weeks wearing native tribal garb, sleeping in teepees, and getting in touch with a culture that was not my own seemed completely ridiculous. But now that I was here, I could not be more grateful. I had no idea how much the stress of my life was affecting me, or how blind I had been about some things.
I had loved Edward with my whole being. He was my world, my sun, and my moon. And when he left me, he took all the light with him. I wandered alone in the dark for months, unable to sleep, eat, or even think. It hurt to open my eyes everyday, and breathing brought the agony of expanding the wound in my chest where my heart used to be. But as I fill my lungs with yet another breath of a new day, I can open my eyes fully to the beauty that surrounds me, and draw strength from the earth itself. Jacob taught me that. He taught me how to draw energy from my environment. That the elements flow through us and work for us. He taught me how to heal.
This has become my favorite time of day. It’s the only time the camp is quiet. There are ten teepees in all, set in a circular pattern, and giving a wide berth to the large fire pit in the center. Jacob and his tribal brothers are never satisfied unless the evening bonfire is at least eight feet high, which is five feet higher than I’m comfortable with, but their childlike joy in their nightly accomplishment is too endearing to complain. In this secluded location, it is easy to see how the innate pride in their lineage flows through them like water through the mountain.
Water. So tranquil in the trickling steam, yet it holds the power to carve the earth. It has created great gorges, washes the land, and gives life to all creatures. In the distance, I can hear the river as it flows. It’s gentle caress, slowly smoothing and shaping the rocks as it has done for centuries.
A light breeze kisses my cheeks, as the air bids me good morning. I breathe deeply again, allowing it to consume, and heal me inside. The air has the power to crush a mighty tree, and sting the skin with bitterness. But it can also lightly stroke the flower and hold the bird in its gentle hand. It surrounds us constantly, sometimes a heavy presence, and sometimes an invisible friend. It feeds the fire, moves the water, and hugs the earth.
I reach down and scoop up a handful of soil, allowing it to trickle through my fingers. Mother Earth. Our home, our origin, our destination. Rich soil brings life sustaining nutrients, and the land provides all we need to build shelter. It shakes when it is angry, yet loves us enough to provide us with what we need to survive when the air, the fire, and the water are vexed. The pure smell of this iron rich soil combines with the raw, woodsy scent of surrounding forest, to clear my mind and pacify my soul.
Before I came here, the only element I recognized was fire. It ran through my veins, blinding me with such pain that all I wanted was an end. I wanted it to devour me, turn me to ash and allow the wind to carry me away. It assaulted me day after terrible day, controlling my thoughts and rendering me useless in my darkness.
But I was not meant to burn, and Jacob squelched the flames with his noble heart and gentle ways. He was my compass, guiding me through the dark until our journey brought me here...to the dawn of a new day, and a new life. I understand now that I was following an unnatural path before. I had allowed myself to become so wrapped up in someone who could never give me what I needed to survive. Instead, he bled me until I was dry and flammable, and then he lit the match. But I no longer fear the fire. I understand that it has a very sensible purpose. It guides us, sometimes gently and sometimes harshly, away from those things which are bad for us. And it also cleanses us, allowing us to rise anew like a phoenix; stronger than before, and more wise.
I raise my eyes to the east and greet the sun as it peeks above the mountains, bathing my face with its tender warmth and embracing me as an old friend. I missed my friend in the darkness. Though he knocked many times, the fire had melted the locks on my prison door sealing me in. I shudder slightly at the memory, but am instantly soothed by the breath of the wind in my hair, the tenderness of the sun on my cheeks, the song of the river, and the embrace of the earth below me. And as I hear Jacob’s tender voice, thick with sleep, offer me a simple “Mornin’, Beautiful,” I can’t help the small smile that plays on my lips. His warm embrace envelopes me from behind, and I am instantly filled with the joy and peace that comes from knowing that I now walk my natural path.
This was written for my dear friend Hev99, and is being posted in honor of her birthday. The world was irrevocably changed for the better when Bob entered the world. She is as bright a light as the noonday sun in the lives of all who know her, and I, for one, could not feel more blessed to have her in my life. I love you, Bob! Happy Birthday!