Seeing Sacred

From the moment I arrived on Cheaha Mountain (after nine long hours of driving through steady rain) and saw the sun emerge from overcast skies, I was seeing things differently. Everywhere I looked I saw a reason to rejoice, and the weariness of recent months dissolved without my noticing.  I was noticing other things, like the simple altar left by a former visitor. I saw it each time I left my cabin for a walk, and when I returned, the lovely balance of its parts brought me back to myself and to my home away from home. The next thing I saw was the small stone cabin with its sheltering cave-like interior.

Yes, there was also a view. The mountain edge gave way to a grand expanse  of sky, a distant valley, and the nearly invisible sparkle of a lake. The obvious abyss – so readily available – was softened by trees and underbrush. I sat comfortably close to the drop off and knew perfect peace. To bask there, out of sight of other cabins and sojourners, was amazingly restful, not to mention the fact that hearing the song sung by the mountain pines in response to the wind was like hearing angel voices: both restful and life-giving.

My three full days on Cheaha Mountain embodied the sound of those trees. As I heard, so I moved or was still – and as I absorbed their song, so I saw the sacred manifestation of the song. As I wandered the roads, I wandered the waves of sound and was one with the up and down motion, the curving slopes of the mountain’s body. I forgot my exhaustion as I melded with the landscapes message for me: that I am the dancer dancing, no matter the form the dance takes. The older woman practicing without effort or forethought the dance she is meant to dance, the dance she is when distraction isn’t pulling her away from herself. A walk on the side of the mountain, free of external agendas (and of dear little pulling dogs), is a dance of surpassing joy. The stillness is in the moving, and the moving never struggles against the still point. How glorious to dance and to see, and the seeing pauses the movement but not the dance. For I am what I am seeing: Mountain Laurel, a lizard on a rock, a rock face that makes me think of God, albeit with a nose like mine.

On my first morning, I woke to a setting enshrouded in a mist that seemed dense enoungh to stop my first walk, but I bravely entered the moist thick air and felt myself meld with a fairyland. Everywhere I looked, I seemed to see magical creatures. I was one, and I knew I belonged. That first walk was my initiation to the world I would inhabit for three blessed days. I saw the shapes of trees and so much more, I knew and understood and accepted the gift I was seeing. The sacred was everywhere, and my own exhistence was equally sacred. I prayed without knowing I prayed – to remember all I saw and all I was.

I am remembering. I am taking the time to remember on a day when I feared that I might be forgetting the blessing of living and dancing on Cheaha Mountain for three precious days. I do remember the freedom of being at peace with myself, the easy obedience to my own sweet rhythms (those of the mountain). How lovely to rest and read, to sit and appear to do nothing and still feel accepting of myself. No thought of doing just to do. I wrote nothing except in my journal, and my art supplies were left in the car. I ate simple food, with no concern for how little or how much. I was satisfied easily. My soul was calm, and my body was also calm. I experienced no acid reflux while I was there.

Before I left the mountain, I took a photograph, hoping to capture a little of the woman I was – in tune with the mountain – and I post it in hopes of sharing a little of what I received. My trip home was not an easy one. Leaving was obviously a shock to my system. But my difficulties allowed me an encounter with the kind ladies of Jack’s Restaurant in Lincoln, Alabama – in particular an angel named Stacey – whose comforting hug was a kind of homecoming that made it possible to continue my journey, to return to the home that is mine in all the obvious ways. I have to remember that the home I found on the mountain is the one I carry with me,  wherever I am.

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3 Responses to “Seeing Sacred”

  1. Kendall Says:

    I love every word of this, every picture, and best of all that beautiful self-portrait of Leif at peace, Leif quiet, Leif who is one of the magical creatures, Leif of the leaves and the stone faces and the nose and the straw hat and the sunshine creating beautiful patterns across your face.

  2. Kendall Says:

    That fifth picture, with the mist, is especially enthralling. Thank you for every word and picture.

  3. leiflife Says:

    And thank you for seeing along with me. The misty woods is my favorite picture.

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