Wednesday, August 27, 2008

meditation on a morning walk

I haven't been to this park for some time, and the familiar trees and green curves of the hills welcome me. Like a friend seen after a long absence, my eyes trace the well-known features with delight.

In front of me walk two women in red, with a dog on a lead about as red as a dog gets. Normally I would find them disturbing, a blot on the purity of the landscape, like the red graffiti on the white bark of the gums. Today nothing can dampen my mood.

I look down, and the gravel moves with soothing rhythm under my feet. I look up, and the gnarled branches of oaks tell their long, slow tale of years. I look, at fat white eucalypts shedding strings of brown bark, at lichen-yellowed trees in their winter bareness, at peppermint gums clambering up the hillside.

I look.

The stillness is shattered by a passing gaggle of gabbling middle-aged women. A woman with electric blue eyeshadow and yellow curls shrills at the quiet-faced woman next to her, "I tell you, it was so peaceful, there was not a sound! Not a sound, I tell you! It was so peaceful!" I smile at the contrast between content and delivery.

A foam-freckled brown creek rushes alongside, through the unkempt loveliness of overgrown banks, scattered with haphazard piles of upended branches. Messy wattles and dead trees stand knee-deep in dandelions, thistles and clover. Bridal creeper spreads its glossy leaves impartially over logs, stones and shrubs, turning them into mysterious lumpy mounds.

I look. I think.

My reflections are interrupted by a bald man walking three dogs, crowded to the far side of the path on short leads. Two gangly youths pass by, regarding me with challenging stares, their hair gelled into bleach-tipped spines like twin echidnas. A teenager on his way to the local high school, meek faced and crew-cut neat, hurries past clutching a take-away coffee in a brown paper cup.

The smell of the onion grass is strong. A small rabbit regards me solemnly. The sky sheds tufts of white cloud. My muscles bunch and stretch, bunch and stretch. A train passes in glimpses through a tangle of trees. The air tips my nose with cold. Two shaggy ponies graze on an steep angle of field. Lemon-fringed cockatoos scream their wild, whooping calls overhead.

I look. I think. I pray.

The silence returns, and my thoughts turn to You: the One who shaped every twig as a tiny paean of praise, the one who sent his Son to die on ugly dead wood like this, the One who reaches out to all these people, holy interruptions in my walk, my thoughts, my days.

image is from stock.xchng


Anonymous said...

Thank you. I feel like I just went on that walk with you. :-)

Jean said...