As I hike along a beloved trail, I am serenaded by the sound of crickets celebrating it seems, in the warmth of the autumn sunshine. Somewhere, a woodpecker is knocking on a tree, while underneath my feet a golden carpet is being laid down from the cascade of leaves fluttering to the ground on a gentle breeze.
In the distance I hear someone’s wind chime.
I notice it’s not a sound of nature, and yet still, somehow it soothes.
I find myself wondering what is being soothed exactly…what is it that was aching in the first place?
Nature has always been my greatest teacher, even when I’m sometimes clueless to the ‘soul ache’ within.
Somehow she manages to enfold me in loving arms and I am lost in the peace of that embrace.
All of a sudden I notice everything all at once, like sounds and smells and light and the space between things, and the softly subtle way I am being brought back into a balance I didn’t even know I was out of.
What is she soothing within me, this Great Mother of ours?
What is the silent ache I didn’t even know was there?
As I smile and acknowledge the few who pass me by on the trail, I begin to sense that the silent ache is not just mine.
I reflect deeper on this as I listen to the rustle of leaves.
I close my eyes, turn my face to the sun, and wonder if this great soothing that I always feel from nature is a common medicine for all; for a common ache that we don’t always realize is there.
It’s deep, this ache. It’s subtle, and often hidden.
And sensing that it’s not just mine, I’m guessing it’s a common ache amongst us all.
I think it’s an ache for Grace.
Who doesn’t want Grace to enter their life?
The kind of Grace that removes all doubt.
The kind of Grace that leaves your heart permanently cleansed and open.
The kind of Grace that brings you to your knees, humbled and empty of all pride, arrogance, and judgement.
The kind of Grace that leaves you with an unshakeable trust in your own beloved heart.
The kind of Grace that arrives and says, “I’m here to stay. The search is over. Rest. Breathe. Be. I am yours forevermore. I always have been.”
I think we tend to want that kind of Grace to show up disguised as a person, a job, a house….something external, and so often we invest much energy in this pseudo-grace, sometimes years, sometimes lifetimes…
And yet, until we continually reach inside for that feeling of security, Grace will elude us.
Perhaps we’ll always feel the common ache of mankind as long as even one person is still left feeling hungry, bereft or lost. It’s impossible to walk the inner path if we are starving or homeless or both. It’s not until we’re fed, clothed, and sheltered that we can even begin to go inward.
All the more reason for those of us who can walk the inner path, to do so.
The more Grace-filled hearts there are in the world, the less our common ache…the greater our sense of compassion and loving kindness towards one another…the greater the realization of just how much we all have in common in our desire to live in peace, to feel safe and protected, to be happy, to feel connected to one another, to love and be loved, and to be healthy.
In our common-ness we are united at the core, at the level of our hearts, but yet so often we get seduced by the material world at the level of the mind and stay there thinking this is what life is all about.
If we could only step back a bit, take a deeper look at each other from the place that is before even you and I, from the place where Grace comes from, the place of deep and utter silence, that place-less place of pure awareness.
I’d venture to guess that if you are still reading this that you know what I’m talking about, and that you know how much courage it takes to surrender the life you thought you were meant to live for the one that is living you.
Sometimes, an innocent walk in the woods can lead us down an inner road less traveled, a road well worth taking.
Photo credit: by Sage – taken on the Rail Trail, Dundas, ON. Fall 2013