The last day I was at my self-initiated (not so silent) retreat at Springwater Center, I awoke in time to practice yoga in the dark. Enfolded in blankets in a comfy recliner, I sat in meditation as the light began to bring on the day. The day started with a great wind that danced the tops of the trees and feathery tassels of the tall grass. This wind was the envoy for the imminent snowfall that, from my vantage point, was almost imperceptible at first, looking more like haze or mist. Then as the grey-white day dawned, the winter sky poured down heavy flakes of lively snow.
Leaving my cozy spot, I bundled up and walked into the swirling scene. I laughed as I felt exactly as though I was inside a “snow globe” and a very large hand was shaking it vigorously. Delightful! I felt that I had to get out there and walk—to experience the wind, the rain of snow, the beauty of the fern-like trees, their delicate green cloaked in a thin layer of white. And most of all, I had to get to my “spot”.
My spot is what I think of as the waterfall. There is a bench and even a foot rest (how thoughtful!). Of course I know it is not “my” spot—first of all it belongs to no one but itself, and secondly it is most likely a special spot for countless others…. friends unknown and known.
In any case, I had started coming to this spot because I felt enlivened by the rushing water—its sound and sight. The first day I had been awed by the icicles growing around the rushing water, imagining that at some point there would be so many that the waterfall would be frozen silent. But the next day I came, there were less icicles. As I was pondering this, another piece broke off as the force of the water rushed over it, and it noisily crashed its way downstream until it melted completely somewhere along the way and merged with the forward press of the stream. I loved the image of the ice building up and breaking down. Even more appealing was the thought that as the temperature dropped and remained cold, the ice would conquer and bring the whole scene to a fantastically beautiful still life portrait–at least until early spring.
And so, brushing aside snow enough for my bottom to fit on the bench, I set myself for meditation. I have been practicing a meditation for some time now that is fairly strenuous and quite powerful in its effects. The position has the arms straight out from the shoulders, with one hand flat on top of the other, palms facing upward. It uses what is called the “root” mantra, which describes the qualities of beingness in the Gurmuki language, derived from Sanskrit. The driving sound of the rushing water accompanied the energy of the mantra perfectly. This I had discovered on my first day at Springwater, and I had returned each day for the same delight.
After the meditation, and knowing it would be my last for a while at this special spot, I spontaneously put my hands together in a salute to the stream, slowly turning to honor the land all around me. I bowed to the stream—the dynamo of energy, the beauty of the ice, to the peace of the snow, to the shelter and loveliness of the trees– the detail and bareness of the branches layered with the friendly greenness of the firs. I felt a gratitude for the existence of this place, for all amazing places of the earth, and for my own existence to be able to appreciate it all.
In this release of gratitude I remembered my teacher’s words: “An attitude of gratitude perpetuates the flow of prosperity.” To me, prosperity means the movement of creativity into abundance—for one’s self, yes, and for everyone else. At that moment of presence I experienced a feeling in my heart. It was as if my heart warmed up and smiled at me. I began to sing to the trees and snow. I sang my little children songs–songs that emerge spontaneously from the child in me. I sang the wise and innocent songs that would someday be recorded with professional musicians instead of this one lone voice in the silence of the snow-draped forest. But the beauty, the blessedness, of those little songs in this sacred land would stay with me, and I know that I can be in the same space while singing in a recording studio as well.