Below me, and out as far as the eye can see, the mountains look like they are floating. As they actually are, floating on the earth’s soft mantle. These silent mountain friends wish me well. I’m here to do a goodbye and gratitude ceremony for my nearly six years in these North Carolina mountains. It’s all impermanence, as the Buddhists say. From this, from change, come the wonders, the beauty of life.
Every day the world does this magic act of change! Here on top of the world, I get to witness this miracle of transformation. I blow tobacco smoke to honor the seven directions, and then my senses open even more, and I am nested within the sphere of the seven sacred directions.
There’s something about seeing the faraway and the close at the same time. I see how the near goes into the far, the milkweed and goldenrod stretching down and down; and how the far comes into the near, the mountains with their coves and valleys entering right into my experience up here. Seeing the far and the near at the same time gives me back my own wholeness.In the evening I build a fire. It pops and dances, claps for joy. I feed it my old dream, naming and releasing what I wanted that did not come to pass. I stare as the fire fashions, from my old dream, new ones for my new life. The full Pisces moon rises, and I, too, rise to my feet in exaltation. Like the fire, the moon swallows my old dream and transforms it–into the moonlight of the new dreams which I sing out.At dawn I wake in the sky a mile high, the clouds below me not yet revealing which world I shall find myself part of this day. The blessed quiet of no human sound allows me to listen differently to what the world is. Birds are just waking. I hear them stretching wings in the brush, rustling their good morning, but not yet singing. And a few early bees, trying out the buzz of their workday to come, their work of love, bees bringing shy flowers together in a kind of third party sex here on top of the world. I am a little human part of this waking day, conjoined with all that is.
The show is about to begin. The curtain of clouds is parting! The shapes of yellow green hills with their pool of shadows reappear to me. Fog lakes spill over the rims of their caldera bowls. As I watch, the solid green of the closest mountain appears. Drops of morning fog touch my skin, not rain but a tiny caress of mist to wish me good day and to mitigate the rising heat.
I think of Thich Nhat Hanh silently gesturing outwards with his arm, saying, Look! I think of Starhawk in her book Earth Path urging us to see the sumptuous world as play of light and dark, to look “where form intercepts light.” Was this world here behind the clouds or have my divine eyes just now created it by looking? Too many thoughts! I return myself to the effervescent present, so as not to miss the next marvel.
Now the mountains seem to stretch and yawn with early light. And the shadows! While the sun touches some of the mountains with her fingers, clouds sail shade over others. I have the best seat in the house for a wondrous shadow play. Sun through cloudbreak spotlights one round peak to show its holiness. Now the sun’s become so very bright on my white page that I must lower my lids like a lizard. I lick the pleasure of heat into my skin.
And here comes the blue sky of the day, pushing the clouds westward, so gently that it looks like love. And isn’t all the world making love? The bees, the flowers, the sky, the mountains? Isn’t love, this only morning there is, the very breath of the living planet? Love, the constancy as well as the ever-changing impermanence.
Glorious and gorgeous, these gifts from Gaia, in September above Maggie Valley in North Carolina. I watch the beauty before me, I cry and laugh, I sing. Before I must go, I leave a clay rattle, made by my own hands and dressed with feathers, to return to the earth from which it was made. Like a prayer arrow, it holds my intentions, my new dreams. It has absorbed the moonlight and the rising sun. It has rattled my dreams inwards to my ears and outwards to the cosmos. I leave it here as my gratitude offering to these mountains that have nourished me.
I give thanks that the sun, rising where the night before the moon lifted its beauty, will accompany me in my new life. The sun and the moon and the stars, my companions, faithful always. I likely will not be back. Mexico, with new mountains and new beauty, calls to me.