There is pleasure in the pathless woods.
This afternoon, I took a break from work to hike in the woods. Toward the end of my hike, I went off the path to investigate a broken, rusty bench. The bench was low, probably from sinking into the ground over the years. One side looked safe and sturdy, while the other had a gaping hole, the wood sharp from breaking.
It was the perfect meditation spot, surrounded by trees and undergrowth but warm in the afternoon sun.
I closed my eyes, and became inexplicably sad. I felt very alone.
Later, when I walked back to my apartment at the monastery, I thought of my Mom, and how on a 40-degree, sunny winter day like this one, she might crack a window in the kitchen, “just to get some fresh air.”
Or, while cleaning, she might throw open a bunch of windows in the house and freeze us out.
I unlocked the middle of my living room’s bay windows and cranked it open. I cut an avocado, and seasoned it with salt, pepper and lightly-dried basil (which lasts longer than fresh and tastes just as good). I warmed up my peppermint tea from lunch and sat on a love seat near the open window.
Birds were chirping outside, and every few minutes I heard the crunch of a squirrel nosing through dried leaves.
Mom passed away in 2006, and I think I was just missing her today. In the past six months, my family and I have had several crises ~ an old one that ended just before Christmas (thankfully), and a new one that rose to take its place.
My mother’s name was Matilda, “Tillie” to everyone she knew. Twice in the past few weeks, my Dad has said, “Tillie, where are you when I need you?” It made me so sad. What could I say? What should I say?
I saw in those moments how much he loved, and loves, my Mom.
I wish I could tell my Dad, and my sister Elizabeth, what Mom would have said. Maybe, the next time I walk the pathless woods to sit on the broken bench, if I close my eyes and listen, I’ll hear her tell me what we need to know.