A note from Carl:
Yesterday, I got to take a long walk in a local canyon, the path overgrown with all the fresh life, following the rains of May here in Utah.
In the continuously dynamic balance of parenting, working, writing, practice, husbanding, teaching, interneting…(the many lives we are all embodying simultaneously) it is a sweet gift for me to have a morning alone in a spring canyon with no time constraints. The only other human I saw was a runner, an hour along the trail, who slowed down enough to say: “We are so lucky to be here! What a glorious morning!” All the words that needed to be said.
When I am quiet in nature, I often think of Wendell Berry’s poem:
The Peace of Wild Things
When despair for the world grows in me and I wake in the night at the least sound in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be, I go and lie down where the wood drake rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds. I come into the peace of wild things who do not tax their lives with forethought of grief. I come into the presence of still water. And I feel above me the day-blind stars waiting with their light. For a time I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.
I always feel like I’m busted when I read the line “those who do not tax themselves with the forethought of grief.” We do a lot of that, don’t we?
The snakes, butterflies, deer, Redtail Hawks, and the many ants- none of us were taxing ourselves with the forethought of grief- and things seemed to be getting along just fine. When I spend time in natural places, it is like I am re-tuned to my own basic sanity, I re-charge my inner-wilderness.
For me, that inner-wilderness is my body, felt from within. The spaces in my torso, my direct sensations- these are the protected wildlands where I can access to something fresh, wild, alive, unknown, un colonized, naturally intelligent, non-linear, non-separate, unhurried, that is always available, if I slow down enough, to be in a kind of council with my thinking, rational mind and personal history.
Reggie Ray describes the inner-wilderness in his book, Touching Enlightenment.
“There is a new wilderness…a new unknown and limitless territory-I do believe- that has not been, and cannot be, colonized and domesticated by human ambition and greed, that in its true extent cannot be mapped by human logic at all. This is the “forest” of the human body. The body is now, I believe, our forest, our jungle, the “outlandish” expanse in which we are invited to let go of everything we think, allow ourselves to be stripped down to our most irreducible person…In this, I am not speaking of the body we think we have, the body we conceptualize as part of “me” or my self-image. Rather I am talking about the body that we meet when we are willing to descend into it, to surrender into its darkness and its mysteries, and explore it with our awareness. As we shall see, this true, limitless body cannot even be entered until we leave our thinking process behind-on the surface, so to speak. It is similar to the deep-sea diver: while floating on the surface of the sea, he knows little of what lies below, but when he descends into its depths, the limitless worlds of the ocean open to him.”
Brooke McNamara is deep sea diving poet who so eloquently points to the inner :
Let the weight you run from every day
now draw you down.
Later there will be time to tend
to everything left undone.
into your own bones
lying horizontal on this bed.
into your dark corners.
Come into this
under all the layers.
Come where all your losses
Be drawn deeper down
into the salt tide of tears.
Let grief wash you,
then drown you
beyond the name
you first were given,
when you reached to touch
your own mother’s face for the very first time,
and she smiled her light down into you.
Now reach those same fingers
for so that,
the face of infinity — opening your eyes
you will know
the one dreaming you
is pleased with you,
that everything seen
is your self,
and that now is the time
to rise wholehearted into the work
aching to be animated
by precisely you.
I am so deeply grateful to live in place where I have close access to protected wilderness, and for the amazing good fortune to have come across lineages, teachers, and practices that illuminate the worlds of inner-wilderness.
May you, like Wendell Berry, rest in the grace of the world, and be free.