Our patch of land is mirrored by a fairly steep, wild plant inhabited hillside, populated by a few pine trees, some small oaks, cistus, strawberry fruit trees and an impenetrable thicket of what the Portuguese call ‘mato’, and of course wild boar. It amuses me that this is our reflection so to speak. It is utterly satisfying to turn our backs on our side of the hillside and gaze on nature’s capacity to ferociously replicate herself. It reminds me that no matter what we do she will always reclaim her space as soon as us humans leave her earth alone. Often in the process of playing in the soil I stop take a break and lose my thoughts looking at that hillside and am calmed by its abundance of green. It is frustrating at times too as I wish I could be like the wild boar, or perhaps more poetically like the butterflies, happy to take rest in one of the abandoned cottages, needing neither roof, nor floor, nor clear pathway nor electricity, nor clothing, free from the constraints of attainment or desire. But most of the time I find it amusing, amusing that so much time, effort, energy must be spent making a home for ourselves, and I wonder who is the better adorned for life, certainly not me. This hillside always makes me smile at myself. It makes me feel like God is watching me impenetrable, unmoving and saying ‘relax it really isn’t that hard and there really isn’t that much to do I will look after things, I always do and I always have, let go’.
So, last week I woke up and my darling Memphis, (who always seems to hear my inner thoughts) decided I needed a fresh perspective and that we would take a trip to the other side of the hills. When we first moved here there was a fire or logging access road made along the very top of the hillside, but it is rarely used and we had never been on it. So off we went, with great excitement as soon as the kids were off to school, and after several stops to move fallen trees, some very heavy, out of the road we finally made it to the side immediately facing our patch.
It is hard to describe the experience of standing on the other side looking at our Moses (the place). You see when you are there working or walking or sitting it seems vast, too big for four hands and four feet, two heads and two hearts. The rocks are huge, the fallen trees are heavy, everything we do every impact we make seems small and insignificant on the huge landscape. But from the other side, it well, shrank. It’s tiny, gloriously wonderfully tiny. I couldn’t believe it. It is a speck on this landscape, a mere backyard to all the wild uninhabited landscape that surrounds. From there we could see that nature was eager to swallow every scar that we had made and that boulders to us were mere pebbles to her. I could see myself, watch myself from that side of the hill, a mere ant, or little weed just trying to etch out a life for herself and I could see that though we may be just two, with four hands, four legs, two heads and two hearts that we were not alone, my Memphis and I, that we could paint out a life for ourselves here with time and patience.
So now that I am back on my side of the hill I feel I have a true friend on the other side, one that I can just sit and look at to help calm my quivering mind and body and one that I can also climb (or drive) to the top too and take a fresh perspective, feeling comforted wherever I am of just how small I am, how small my efforts are and that no matter how much I f..k up here, nature with time and patience will always close the gap.
Times of a quivering come to us all and while lying in bed this afternoon I felt that some of my friends might be quivering just now. So whether you feel like you are living in the Babylon of attainment or the Paradise of acceptance I have a story of comfort to tell you. It’s a true story as true as any story can be once it is being told…
In the land of giants...
She got there and it was just as was told. The streets were lined with so many lights it seemed as if the giants had captured the stars and used them to light their way as they strolled down wide avenues and spent many hours sitting and laughing just drinking this stuff called coffee which only seemed to make them laugh even wilder and become more excited. They had huge beautiful buildings, where not even the sun it seemed dared to peel the paint from the walls. Huge green spaces were carved out of their landscape and not even a carrot grew there just plants for looking at and smelling, a setting for giant mothers to walk with their giant babies and for giant fathers to have lunch or a beer with other giant fathers. Huge fat giant ladies sang in buildings painted with gold and lined with red velvet, small tiny giant ladies danced on tippy toes and captured her heart. She decided to try and learn some of the secrets of the giant world and spent many delicious hours in the vast libraries and museums, parks, art galleries and theatres. And in time she too could drink coffee and laugh with her mates and spend endless hours doing nothing but growing flowers and learning and finding ways to make more of the symbolic paper that the giant world seemed to love so much.
By the last day of the first year of her time in the land of giants she knew she was beaten, she had no place to sleep that night and had eaten nothing but beans for several months. She grew tired of all the knowledge and all the talking and longed for a piece of fresh fruit picked from a tree or a cuddle from a grandma or a walk in the Temple yard listening to the old Rastas who lived on the Rock. Tired and beaten she heard one of her favourite Rastas warning as she left, “Be careful daughter you can really lose yourself in that place, remember you are a princess growing into a queen.” At her wits end she opened a book that her Grandma had slipped into her bag as she was leaving the Rock. She opened the book and read these words,
"Do not worry then, saying, 'What will we eat?' or 'What will we drink?' or 'What will we wear for clothing?' For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."
She went onto one of the forbidden rooftops and looked out at another rooftop, one with no apparent windows or doors and saw the most hopeful site she ever saw: a bird eating, feasting on some food that had arrived to his benefit. “How did it get there?” she wondered and “how did he know to go there to eat it”.
Still tired and hungry and scared she made a promise to herself. “I don’t know how I will eat tonight or how I will finish this thing that I came to learn but I do know that I need to write some words to feed the giants and I do know that I need to go and learn to use one of their writing machines and I do have a little of that giant paper money captured on this plastic card I am holding in my hand so I will go to the place where they keep their machines and their many books of learning I will do this next thing I have to do. I will do it gladly I will do it with joy I will do it as best as I can and be as kind as I can in the doing of it. I will not take what is not mine and I will share anything that I have even if that is just a kind word”.
So off she went and in she went and on to the machine she went, tired, broken and lonely but with a little more faith and a little more hope. She fed her plastic card into one of the machines to see just how little she had left, but instead of the card showing digits it flashed three times (just to make sure her dull mind was awake and her shuttered eyes were watching) and it said five letters, letters, not numbers. These letters spelt the word…
Immediately after, the screen came up with an impossible number of digits (these digits represented what the giants called a sum of money). This money would continue to exist on her card for the entire duration of her time in the giants’ hall of learning until the very last page she needed to photocopy or print and at that very last page the card went blank and never worked again.
And so it came to pass that she finished her time in land of giants and in many ways became a giant herself, she found giants to love and to call family and friends, but in time she grew tired of the land of the giants and went to a new land, a vast land of small people and became a small person herself to see what miracles could happen there.
Wherever we are and whoever we are hard times come to us all, but take heart have hope and faith. The next time you are in a place where you can see the horizon, go outside, find the furthest point you can see and try to pick out the details of the furthest thing on that horizon. Chances are all you can see is sky, earth and indistinguishable shapes somewhere in the space between. If it is a tree, all you can tell is that it is a tree, you can not tell what kind of tree or what its leaves are like or whether it has been planted or just grown up there all random like. If it is a building you can tell it is a building but not what kind of building it is or what is going on inside. If it is a person you can not tell the shape of the face or whether that person is friend or foe. In other words we do not know, we never know what is on the horizon for us in our lives, it is a mystery until we reach it and then there is another horizon just waiting for us to reach if we so desire.
So relax and let go be supported by your little patch like a tough little weed, roots dug deep into an apparently impenetrable mountainside. Still in the knowledge that you are rooted in the earth but prepared to dance and move to the slightest breeze. Who knows there just might be something positive on the horizon that you just can’t see, miracles do happen they happened to the girl from the Rock and they have more than likely happened to you.