The River III

Crunch, crunch, crunch.  Softly the snow gives under my feet as I make my way.  I walk today not on ground, but on ice, stretching away far into the depths of the imagination.  Instinctively I head upstream, a salmon returning to a home he doesn’t completely remember.  Therein lies my purpose.  Mid-winter and the ground is soft.  So it is with journeys to the past.  We overlay our memories with soft snowflakes, covering the hurts and trials with a blanket of obscurity.  Only those who truly seek will attempt a journey into the folds and recesses of that long buried.

The ice has begun to break away here and there.  Shards are thrust up and piled one upon the other in exquisite disarray.  Yes, beauty lies here also. These I remember easily, but that is not my purpose here.  I wish to travel deeper into the before and bring back truth.  A precious bundle, one of many guises.  And yet, I am afraid.  In places the current has broken free and surges across the surface of my mind.  I long to dare the water and dive into it, allowing it to carry me where it may… but something holds me back and I stick to the high ground.  The ice is thicker here.  Safe.  Well, the illusion of safety anyway.  Below the water flows and it is only a matter of time until my perch has melted away.

I have been through the ice before – several times.  Perhaps it is this that holds me fast.  The cold awakening of being immersed in the waters of life can chill through.  So, I skitter across the surface, testing it as I progress.  At the sound of a crack I freeze and consider my position.  Another route perhaps.  I skirt the edges but fail to break through, grasping at anything that will keep me from sliding into the center of my being.  Still, I carry on.

So many shapes, such variety of stillness and movement combined.  It is harsh, but incredible.  Not a barrier, but a doorway waiting to be opened.  Beneath there is darkness, but as the door opens the sun shines within.  Darkness no longer.  Sparkles of light reflect and reverberate.  Peace.  Stillness within movement.  Awareness shrinks the shadows that have built in my memory.  Anger once lived here, but love washes it away.  My next step falls upon the ice and pushes through.  Now I am inside – participant, not just observer.  I have brought a bag of forgiveness and empty it, allowing it to run rampant through my past.  Soft butterfly wings transform.  With each touch a weight is lifted, a soul freed.  I am.  Alive!  Not the scared child anymore, as he climbs into me for comfort.  I give it freely.  How like the shards of ice has been my shattered self.  Slowly I am melting it back to One.

I travel back down the river to my now.  Everything around me is seen with beauty.  Is beauty itself.  I know I will have to come back to the river again, that more needs to be done.  Still, it is enough.  A woman stands on the shore, watching me.  She has come here, she thinks, to walk her dogs.  Her path is not yet a conscious one.  I call out to her, “Come on in!  The water’s fine!”  But her only response is, “I hope the ice doesn’t break…”  She doesn’t finish her sentence, but we both know how it ends.  I bite back the words, “That’s the whole idea…”

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Mike Pedde 12/01/2002