Friday, May 27, 2011

Let the Mosquitoes Be Your Guide

I needed quiet time with God today. I also needed a long run, so I dropped my car off to get my snow tires removed (I think it's safe) and headed South on the Appalachian Trail. I wasn't sure what to expect as I entered a field that abuts Route 7. I turned off my music, sure that it would robe me of the total effect. Good choice. I arrived into a magical world, filled with lush grasses and maple trees, pine needle strewn floors and swamps. I traveled from the cool of a grove of trees to the mucky algal water of swampland. My feet were wet within minutes as I wondered just what the eel- like creature I had startled, was. I began to pray. The mosquitoes guided me across the terrain and I gave up on the practice of Ahimsa, wiping my sweaty arms, smearing the bodies as I went. I emerged from a grassy path onto a side road and continued through a field, the only sound was my breathing, sneakers hitting earth and songbirds. Traffic was a distant murmur. I was alone. Not really alone though. I know I was with God and probably a host of other creatures that watched me run by, the heavy footfall a contributor to hip problems and waking every field mouse in the vicinity. Each turn of the trail brought a new world, the only constant were my guides the mosquitoes, their unceasing loyalty to me made me feel important, needed, wanted, loved. The funny thing was, in the quiet, I wasn't scared. I entered the path with a clear mission, to spend time with my Creator. Field, swamp, forest, and on and on. I reached a point where I might have hit the road and continued to my final destination, my partner's house, where I would wait for my car to be ready for pick-up but I chose a different path, I continued along the Appie, unaware of what would meet me up the road, and unprepared, but armed with curiosity and naivete. The trail should lead in the direction of my destination right? More of the same terrain, right? I looked up at the rocky cliff in front of me, a mile from the turn off, my mouth parched and deer fly in tow. It was too late to turn back, or was it? If I had a map I would have known, so I forged ahead and proceeded to climb to the miraculous view shown in the above photographs. Turkey vultures flew overhead, close enough to jump up and reach, I was sure they were waiting for me to fall into the ravine, tired and dehydrated. I forged on, contacting my father for direction once I could text, amazed when he had, that day purchased a book on the trail, which he proceeded to share with me. Three miles until the turnoff that would lead me to my destination, three more mini peaks to go, Mountain Laurel waiting to bloom, Goosefoot Maple, relaying my altitude. Frustration, uncertainty and fear cropped up. Emotions I am familiar with, having indulged in fear cocktail daily for the last few weeks. But I was ok, I wasn't mauled by a bear or fed on by vultures. I reached the intersecting trail three hours and forty five minutes after I had left that morning. Maybe I traveled ten miles in all, many of those however were scaling cliff. But I was supported the entire time, almost four hours with only the sound of my breath and footstep, the rustle of trees and plop of a toad. I survived being the only human traveler, although my buzzing friends do get credit for their tenacity and devotion. I found what I was looking for, a sense of peace and space withing a fear-filled world. I was brought into the land, cradled, rocked and spit back out on the other side, reaching the faucet and plastic cup right in the nick of time.

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