Land and Water Forms

There is always comfort in the land and the water that carves through it. Last night we sat on the porch overlooking the mountains and grieved with Sherrill’s family, so tenderly beautiful in their pain. This morning I woke with my heart set to the steady beat of a prayer for Sherrill. I go to Joe’s for a morning of barter and make little effort to speak. The energy of grief is heavy and active under my skin and I need the physical labor to release it.

Near the top of the irrigation ditch that Riley and I worked on rests a jagged mound of rocks and rich, brown soil. The hillside was disturbed greatly as we laid the irrigation piping, and Joe wants to restore it by creating a space for Japanese tea ceremonies. I hike to the top of the hollow, florescent forest of black locust leaves and tulip poplars twittering in the hot breeze.

My motion is angry at first, hack-hack-hacking with the pick-axe to loosen the rocks and soil, and I realize that I am holding my breath. I re-set my intention, feel the sorrow under my skin, and hack with the sensation of releasing rather than holding in. Within minutes my shirt is soaked with the salty sweat of hard work and hard tears. I work like this for ninety minutes, rotating the pick-axe with a heavy duty rake to direct the soil into a soothing, natural slope that flattens across the top.

I climb a little further up the holler to a rocky ledge about twenty feet from the source of a spring. Joe keeps a cup perched on a rock here, rain or shine, so that anyone can hold the cup under the slow, cold trickle of the spring as it filters through the rocks. I glimpse the downhill view of the soil I worked while meditating on death, then drink heartily from the freshwater spring; lifesource. A pile of upturned rocks rests at the east edge of the ceremony space and I liken them to the hardness of life. Fresh, damp soil glistens in the filtered sunlight, manicured and crossed with rake lines. I like this to the tenderness of human suffering. No matter how the mix is churned, the two go hand in hand.

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