(Story takes place on Thursday, October 27, 2011, Day 2 of running across Vermont.)
“Today is going to be one of those days that feels like it is morning all day long,” Ian, my running partner for this run across Vermont, says to me as we stride east out of Richmond, VT. I know exactly what he means. Each and every morning we are gifted with such a miraculous new life - a day. And today is going to be a series of fresh, new moments of birth – a day of mornings. There is “new” everywhere, and time is obsolete. The day will not run out, it will begin and begin again, with untouched spirit. He is right.
There is no where else I’d rather be running than through Vermont right now in this late Fall season. I feel like my environment is happily at peace, and I am invited to be an active observer of it all. The air is strikingly fresh; the cacophony of wafting scents makes me feel loved and safe. The crisp breeze carries me on its billowy back towards a homeplace in my soul. Oh, how these cloudy days make me feel at home, in home, or even in homage back to my core. The day here Richmond is calm, yet pulsating with life-force; clouds stuff solid the sky, dew sleeps on the wide, thick leaves of harvest-ready Brussels sprouts, and locals walk to the Post Office to drop their mail in the one street-side post box in town. The Vermont landscape is painted with strikingly yellow, orange, and brick red hues of the leaves; pastures upon the hills, dotted with dairy cows; shanty-looking vintage barns that house tractors; and soft gravel roads that wander next to meandering streams. These images are all fresh moments of birth.
Some of these images:
Flash back to exactly a week ago, when I was spending time with friends in Boston before hitting the road in Vermont. It’s a clear morning when Anne and Joel, both soul siblings to me, and I sit at their quaint kitchen table sharing a breakfast of poached eggs and homemade bread a la Joel. We share our challenges. We share our goals. Anne pauses. Her watery eyes and stiff lips show me that she is about to share sentiments that have weighed on her over these months. She begins, “It makes me so sad…so sad that the trees are talking and I don’t even stop to listen to them.” Her eyes gloss over a bit more as she continues, “When I realize that the trees are talking…that they have been talking to me for so long, I feel so ashamed that I have tried to busy myself. My own doings -pushing, striving, achieving – have drowned out their voices. They then have no one to listen to them. I just feel so sad for them.” I could tell that Anne now wants to hear the voices of the trees.
Now, today on this day of continual morning, I am listening. Thank you, Anne. What a gift. What the trees and their friends are saying overwhelm me with such joy and wonder. I am going to explode, literally, from touching this beauty! There is something about raw joy that is not yet complete unless it is shared. Thank goodness I’ve got a running buddy along for the ride to share in these moments with me. Imagine if we listened more to nature’s soundtrack, and then shared this music with others? It’s a marriage of life.
When the sun decides to hibernate beneath a blanket of clouds and outside nature is seemingly at peace, I find it easier to listen. In these conditions, a certain type of friendship builds between said nature and me. There are true forms all around me – from apples dangling off the trees, like super-sized Christmas lights, to the turquoise rust that creeps upon the covered iron bridges – and I am being asked to commune with these true forms. They are showing me their rawness by just being, without distraction – true still life. Cloudy days are ripe arenas for this type of relationship to play out; I, along with nature, become a bit more still, physically, and the mind and soul are also invited to find their element of peace by being.
Thank you, dear clouds and trees, for helping me to find my own stillness – for talking to me! Living a lifestyle necessitating ardent energy and movement, I am so grateful for the clouds. I feel at peace, and am given permission to be rather than do, do, do all the time. An opportunity like this to be with nothing but myself and the still natural life around me inspires me to tap into my inner peace. I have no other choice, no other distraction to take, but to go down this avenue. I am reminded of what Sister Ginger, an 82-year young angel I met on a farm while running through the Kansan countryside said to me under the dark star-lit sky one September night in 2009, “In order to find peace in the world, we must find peace within ourselves.” I understand now, more and more with each life adventure, what she was saying. Through stillness comes listening, comes inner peace, comes truth, comes being vulnerable with ourselves and each other, come genuine relationships, come challenges, comes knowing your neighbor, comes trust, comes growth, comes peace in our homes and in our communities, comes connection to life.
I have been wondering, since running across the country in 2009, how in the world such deep relationships have formed between myself and those with whom I have spent less than 24 hours, even – the people I have met while being on the road as a “passerby.” How Ian and I could have sat down to a two-hour lunch with the effervescent, curly-haired and bearded “Weird Al” Yankovic of Richmond yesterday, talking as if we were best friends in a past life. How a mother in Dalhart, TX, after knowing me for a day, could have asked me advice on how to raise her children so that they believe in the impossible. Perhaps it is because of this inner peace, this vulnerable state of being, that my pretense and outermost skin is peeled away, and I then meet people in my most raw form. That either shocks people, challenges them stop and think, and/or naturally invites them to also show me their secret ingredients. This phenomenon of connection is truly a beautiful tango.
I have the trees to thank, for talking to me…and beckoning me to listen.
Bonus picture of Ian (left) talking over lunch with our buddy, the "Weird Al” Yankovic of Richmond, at On the Rise Bakery in town: