From Winter to Spring: Death and Rebirth

There is something about Fall – something in that single moment when the wind takes the leaf from its limb and sends it flying across your field of vision.

Firey reds slowly fade into grey as what had been is cast away.

 

There is something about that moment right before Winter hits, as the cold air reveals the warmth of one’s breath and the forest floor becomes covered by the fabric of a passing season of time.

Something in the breaking of yesterday’s expectations under the footfalls of the new paths we walk.

 

I once walked by a tree during late Fall and its leaves, browned and shriveled by time, were still clinging to the branches.

My love for another was lingering in my heart and so the sight stopped me in my tracks.

It was a particularly windy day and one strong gust struck the tree while I was under it.

The air around me became filled with leaves mid-flight in their liberation.

I pulled a few from the top of my red hat and a smile pursed on my lips beneath my eyes.

For a moment I forgot my loneliness. The heart of the forest had shown me the way to live.

 

The heart of every man is like this tree.

We bloom for the love of Spring.

The rain nurtures our depth of character.

Our roots go deeply into a darkness we don’t understand.

We are warmed by the love of the sun.

Into Summer we burst into life.

Our hearts become homes for the birds who pass from season to season.

Of smiles in conversations over coffee.

Of doors held open for strangers.

Of the laughter of our children.

We thirst, we drink, we grow.

Finally, the Fall hits and the labor of our love is pulled from us by time.

What we knew to be true changes.

What we knew of ourselves changes.

And into Winter’s grasp, we go.

Of life without fulfillment.

Of dreams without a clear path.

Of faith without feeling.

Aye, but the Winter is our sweetest friend,

Though in the loneliness of its grasping cold we would not think it to be so.

Winter loves us to the core of our being.

We are held still in the nakedness of our losses.

We bear withness to the transformation of our pain.

As the rain turns into snow.

And Sleep comes.

And finally,

Rest.

Acceptance.

Hope.

And then again –

From Winter into Spring

We find another reason to love.

 

I am grateful for all of the love that rests on the forest floor of my character.

I am grateful for all of the promises that made my heart open and bloom as the seasons came and went.

I am grateful for the Fall, for dissillusionment, for the scattering away of my expectations.

I am grateful for purifying snows and Winter’s sweet embrace – that I am loved even in my nakedness.

 

Some of us never plant ourselves in the earth. We go from place to place, scattering much like our leaves in the winds of change.

One day my roots will cling to something real.

One day I will look to see snow atop the limbs of my love in our field.

I will watch her bloom in joy.

I will endure the heavy rains and thunder of sadness with her.

I will watch her colors burst.

And our seasons will pass until a forest of those who bloom like we bloom surrounds us.

And time will go and I will watch my loved ones grow around me.

And when I am ready – when I have sufficiently grown enough in the eyes of my God, I will be struck down and my heart’s life will be taken from me.

Everything that I know will be stripped from me by death.

And into God’s hands, the carpenter, I will go.

And the labors of my soul will build the holy city’s walls.

And a smile will purse on my lips beneath my eyes as I am made new in unimaginable ways.

 

 

 

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What kind of man am I?

What kind of lover am I?

What kind of sinner am I? What kind of monster?

Can you love what is under my mask?

 

Do I devour love? – Do I take what I want without recourse?

Do I create my own future without consideration of another’s?

Do I hold my expectations of reality as gospel? Are my opinions truth? Are my self-seeking intentions law?

Will I allow myself to be eclipsed by my ego? Will I lock my heart behind a cast iron fence that I have set around my own understandings?

 

I walked away from you and heard you whisper, “You’re a good man.”

Did I fool you?

Or is it true?

I’ve come to recognize my darker reflection.

Will I allow myself to be loved anyway?

Would I make the sacrifice of my own ego’s comfort to preserve another’s heart?

 

Am I Cain or am I, Abel?

 

An image comes into my mind when I hear this track:

Of the wolf that flings himself off the cliff, lest he devours all he loves. But in the fall he has proven his lover’s whispers to be correct; though she cries after him not understanding that in disappearing he has saved her from himself.

Only around the acknowledgment of one’s flaws can character be developed. Only by killing that which you are not can you become what you are.

Aye.

That’s what this song is about: making the choice.

 

My Mistaken Mind

Life has taught me just how little I actually ‘know’ to be true.

My greatest intuitions and insights often lead to humbling and jaw-dropping disillusionment.

Like the hero who slays the dragon for the princess only to find that the princess was the dragon the whole time.

What do I slay when I make such grievous strides to comprehend the world with precision?

Truth?

Is not my own scope of understanding but a single perspective in a world of understandings and higher truths?

One thing is certain: we are always learning, about ourselves & about others.

Any relationship with anyone requires that every time you see them you wipe the slate of your expectations and assumptions clean and remain open to the possibility of who they are becoming in that very moment before you.

Love thy neighbor as thyself.

Love thyself enough to allow for mistakes to be made. The past is the substrate of today. Draw strength from it. Draw understanding from it. But don’t let it draw you in – don’t let it convince you how things are. Because it’s only your perspective.

The Vulture

Benjamin walked toward the podium to the applause of the crowd, one hand raised out of appreciation.

He paused for a moment, lifting the microphone to meet his stature, and calmly looked out until we quieted.

I was a boy then and recall my eagerness and anticipation for his words still today.

 

He began, “The Island of Fate was for a long time hidden from us. As you all now know, this is no longer the case. I was fortunate enough to partake in the expedition that led to its discovery and, subsequently, was the one to discover the body of the vulture and the scroll.”

Clearing his throat, he gave some details that bored me as a child. Details regarding the integrity of the paper, estimates of its age and antiquity, a hypothesis about the plants used as ink, and finally he began to talk about how he came to discover the enormous bird that they had found and of the scroll itself.

“With my pistol drawn I entered into a narrow passageway carved into the rock. I only discovered it because I went to tie my shoe and saw it behind the vines.”

He chuckled and continued, “At the end of the passage there was a circular room with seven stars engraved in the stone. There, in the center, was the corpse of the vulture lurched over and decayed on the floor. I almost shot it honestly.  At a glance, the bird’s corpse looked like it was some sort of living horror, especially in the torchlight. As you surely know from the pictures, it is an oddly shaped specimen, massive, and cloaked in black feathers. Clutched in its talons was the scroll.”

We applauded then.

 

Graciously he raised his hand, “It is an absolute honor to read to you, today, the translation of the scroll.”

I recall the look in my mother’s eyes as she watched Benjamin, my father, deliver the speech. They were filled with the kind of light that only a love of immeasurable depth can begin to reflect. All of the years of him away had amounted to this moment.

 

We stopped applauding and he began to read,

“On this island of warring nations life and death battle one another. Every year each nation offers a warrior to the clearing. It is there that they fight.

One year, an elk was chased into the clearing by wolves at the time of war. There, it was slaughtered in front of the eyes of the two warriors.

Wolves are sacred to the tribe of death and elk are sacred to the tribe of life.

The warrior of death shouted, “Don’t you see, our god is stronger than your god! Death always wins. Give up your foolish ways and embrace us once and for all.

The warrior of life shouted back, “Don’t you see – our god has given your god life in the sacrifice of itself. Lay down your weapons and honor us in gratitude”.

We are the judges of their contradiction.”

 

When he finished reading the translation, the hall was silent. I looked at my mother and recall the look of confusion on her face.

I too was confused and recall thinking, ‘All of those years away for that?’

 

 

 

 

 

The garden of our mind

Today I looked out my window to find that the willow tree I had planted about oh, six months ago, had fallen over and was atop the grass at a deadly 90 degree angle.

My awareness of the situation was followed with a few expletives of surprise and an immediate departure outside to rescue it.

The garden in my backyard is finally taking shape and Willy the Willow is my pride and joy. He’s the first thing that I planted, lasted all winter, and I’ll be damned if the bastard quits on me now simply because he lacks the spinal resilience to go on.

Gently I pulled it upright, grabbed a rope, tied it to the bamboo stick that was bracing it, and drove off to work.

 

In life, we surround ourselves with psychological familiarities that reflect pieces of ourselves. They reflect the underpinnings of our personalities. The hoarder’s house is full of clutter, as is their mind. The preacher’s house is full of religious symbols and paintings. My garden is full of things that can either flourish or wither – things that are beautiful.

I didn’t get a hearty maple tree. I got a weeping willow, a drooping, sad, beautiful bastard of a tree that requires constant support and rescuing while it grows in my windy yard. I love it the most for those reasons.

Constantly I sip on my coffee and look out my window at my tree. When I go into the garden, I look at my tree first.

It is the potential within it in spite of the its current state of weakness that I love to reinforce.

 

Gardening is one of the most rewarding things we can do with life. Why? Because it it requires leaving the things we wish to tend to; it requires the releasing of that which we care for and the faith that they will continue to grow without our observation.

I had a pumpkin seedling that was withered so I put it in new soil, watered it and went to bed. When I got back up and returned from work the next day I found that it was completely fine. It’s stronger than I would have expected. The realization gave me a bit of joy. It surprised me. This surprise is what life is all about.

 

How does the garden of your mind look?

Do you let things go overnight in acceptance? Do you allow that which you have cared for to die so that it might flourish and surprise you?

Often, we tend to forget about the things we plant, the memories that exist, the fallen things of old expectations – but they are still growing even when we drive away from them.

 

Be vigilant in regards to what is growing in your own mind, and never restrain yourself from rescuing beautiful thoughts.

-Noah