I watch your rolling waves come to me, crash upon the shore. I see patterns in the ripples of your crest. Your tide rises and falls like a gentle breath. You bring with you such power. Moving all in your wake, even the rocks yield to your strength. Everything shifts and is shaped by you. Nothing stands for too long. You utterly annihilate the perceived permanence of land, gently and slowing bending to your will.
(Photo: Waves on the shore of Eleuthera, Bahamas, in the tail and wake of Hurricane Katrina, 2005)
The ice fog still clings to the trees and branches after you have passed. The frost still marks the ground. You pass silent and still, a frozen blanket whose presence is felt long after. Only the sun rising slowly erases your memory. Yet I remember you like a dream, parting the way.
I still see you in my mind.
You hide the way – cloak it in mystery. You paint the landscape in a clear diamond brilliance. You part for my passing – illuminating my very breath – my essence. You leave a mark only my footsteps clear – then betray that I was there. But you don’t last – even the veil must part, must pass.
(Photo: Trees on Hennepin Country Road 10, Minnesota, after being transformed by ice fog, 2010)
I look at you, with your flickering flames, your shifting patterns in the coals. I see you. Your images flash before me. Your patterns mesmerize me. I cannot look away, captivated, dazed into silence. I sit before you and bear witness to the messages you reveal to me. I stare and see so much in your burning, your consumption. You warm me from the chill of the night.
I finally move, tending stick in hand to give you a stir. I need more.
(Photo: Memorial weekend fire on The Behler Family Cabin, Lake Hattie, Minnesota, 2004)
Home to us all, we count on you being there, remaining solid beneath our feet. I tread upon you – run on you – cut you, spread you. Yet you remain. Rock, stone, soil, you are your own living creature.
In summer’s heat, you shimmer, you shine. A mirage tells us you too can be mystical – you hold many mysteries. Whether above or below, you are home to many. You provide, are taken for granted. Marred you may be, we count on you remaining solid, unmoving --- except for water, for wind that change your shape. We fear you when you quake.
We rely on your permanence, we build our homes, our structures upon your back. We kiss the ground and are thankful you are there for us. We count on you, father and mother to us all.
(Photo: Farms terraced on the the face of the Himalayas, India, 2000)
When I was a child, in a time before I can remember, I was baptized in the Catholic church. It was renewed in later years with the rite of confirmation. It was a baptism of water. A coolness of the spirit that came to me.
In the 90s, I initiated into the Himalayan meditative tradition. I received a mantra to ground me and focus upon. I continue to practice it today. It attunes me to all things within and external. With gentle, regular, smoothly shaped breath, it was a baptism of air.
As I go to Couché, I will initiate again. I will face another baptism, this one of fire. I’ve always been captivated by the flames. I feel kindred with them.
I have always felt a strong connection to the earth, the forests, the land. I live on a farm and commune with nature. I have a strong drawing to Druidic beliefs, perhaps in the future I will seek yet another baptism, one of earth.
The four elements call to me. They are the elements necessary to sustain life. They are our spiritual base. I hope to be initiated by all of them some day. I strive for that completeness.