I turn the bend and settle into a stride as I approach the hill. All too often it is right at this bend that one of her favorites queues up and Taylor Swift is telling me I belong to her or Carly Rae Jepson is giving me pennies and dimes for a kiss. I breathe deep, not sure if it is from reverence or from the trepidation in knowing what is about to come. To the novice, the hill doesn’t seem like a hill at all but, the reality is, its incline tests even the most conditioned. And isn’t that how life sometimes goes- just about the time a stride is found and all seems somewhat straightforward, life becomes far more complicated and complex. It is the days that I feel my world is closing in and all that I thought was or could is not or won’t, I find myself at that bend, approaching the seemingly slight incline of the monstrous hill. I urge myself forward, laying down frustrations and disappointments- forcing my lungs to gasp for air. I pound my way, step by step -foot over foot- focused only on what I know awaits me at the summit.
I will my way to the certain majesty that exists ahead. It is here in the early dawn, when the mist hovers over her meadows, that the convergence of heaven and earth is tangible. It is a union that causes pause and a calm to settle over the landscape. This time of year, her meadows have slowly transformed into hues of browns, yellows and gold. Perfect brushstrokes of a living image of a Van Gogh canvas. And while the spectacular transformation is the sign of a new season with new beginnings, the reality is the brown, yellow and gold are the result of a season’s end. And there- right there- is the paradox. In this season of thanks and abundance, of harvest and gratitude, lies an offering of loss. Field’s bounty rewards her farmer for his apt attention and toiling. Branches, whose fragrant blossoms filled the air just months ago, bend low and offer fruit to be plucked and the once small seed has emerged from the ground to the harvester’s delight. And it is in this season of harvest and thanks, I am reminded, all that is good, all that is beautiful, true and right, require a period of toiling, of being exposed to storm winds and of knowing growth does happen in darkness.
It is when frustrations run high and disappointments taunt me to run for another place and time that I a reminded, a lush meadow that fails die back will not produce fertile grazing in the spring and waters stilled for too long will surely become stagnate and contaminate. And so, it is in this sacred space at the summit of the hill, I am reminded, had my little one not died, I may never have found my stride around the bend, gasped for air as I conquered the steep incline or may have never witness how the visible convergence of heaven and earth looks. And while it shatters my heart, I may have never realized that the paradox is real and true- all that is right and true and beautiful come through toiling, suffering and darkness. For the reality is- it is in the forging that gold and under significant pressure that diamonds emerge. And it is here, in this sacred space at the summit of the hill, as I bend at the waist and gasp for air, that life is found.
*Photo Credit: Henryk Teraszkiewicz