At quarter of nine in the morning, the mercury stands at 83 degrees. Already I have mowed the lawn, written a blog, revised a writing assignment, and cleaned up half a gallon of forest green paint from the office floor. The sitter arrives, and it is time for me to go in search of stillness.
The humidity presses inward like a damp electric blanket, but I am going to the woods, so I drive with the windows down, park at the Boy Scout camp, and take off on foot. The path is muddy, its edges overgrown, but in the deep parts of the woods, undergrowth drops away, laying bare the skeletal lower branches of cedar.
And then green returns as the edge of the bluff approaches. The path turns, and the view opens up.
A few steps farther on, I find my spot: a rocky outcropping that looks like a sheer dropoff to the creek far, far below, but on closer inspection reveals a lower shelf, hidden from prying eyes on the path. I watch the vagaries of a breeze that sets a line of trees in the middle of the valley to swaying, while the wide swaths on either side lie still and untouched.
Still, the noise of traffic remains, a persistent, annoying buzz and rumble. I sit for a few minutes, and then, feeling restless, I move on. I follow an unfamiliar path over the ridge, away from the noise. At last I sit on a tree fallen across the path. I want to lie down; my overtaxed brain cries for rest. I’ve learned that sleep is the road to stillness, but I’m afraid that all the plants around me are poison ivy. At last I lie back along the tree trunk, and after a few false starts, find balance. I drift.
I wake to the swelling ssssshhhhh of wind in the trees above me. I open my eyes. Neither words nor images can do justice to the sense of space, enclosed yet endless, of a room made of long, leggy trees. I see the Paraclete in a patch of sky.
I stretch out my hand, and it looks like the handprint of God. Here, at last, is stillness.
I make my way back to civilization in stages. On the other side of the hill, the rumble of lawn mowers and traffic waits. The sweltering weight of heat pounces the moment I enter a sunny patch. But even here, the whisper of Heaven accompanies me, in the spice of wild herbs and the cool scent of cedar, in the bee that flies circles around me and the butterfly flit-fluttering alongside. And by the time I reach the camp, the words have begun to flow. Yay God.