I walked alone through the woods. Only the distant sound of engines and the narrow, sandy trail before me recall that human civilization lies not far away.
Shriveled ferns now cover the forest floor and the once abundant mushrooms have nearly vanished. A squirrel hops calmly in the distance. A rustling reveals the striped back of a chipmunk in the brambles.
A snake wriggles across the path and freezes in expectation of my departure. The hated snake; so reviled in our culture. The image of Evil and of the Fall. And yet, this little fellow wants nothing of me other than to be left free to pursue his life.
A few bright green and healthy ferns defy their surroundings. One tattered mushroom, then another nearly perfect specimen boldly stands watch in the grass. They stand alone. And yet, they are not alone.
They share with each other an energy, a spirit of living in the midst of the declining season. Here with the snakes and ferns and mushrooms, I am among a community of loners, an army of life energy battling the forces of conformity and resignation to Fate. I am a Chaplain in a hospice of hope and perseverance.
I walk in a hospice because, after all, everything must eventually die; that is, the organic shell binding us to this particular reality will one day cease functioning. But, everything thing exists forever in the Spiritual Realm.
My path joins a much larger trail. At the junction, a bench invites me to sit and jot notes. Two women on horseback ride up. As they pass, one inquires, “Are you drawing?” A short time later, a father and his young son approach. “Is he fishing?” I hear the child ask. “It’s a nice day for reading,” the man poses to me. A young woman comes up. She commands her spotted spaniel to “Heel!” several times. I feel for the animal who clearly wants to know, “Can I come over and greet you?”
What exactly am I doing?
I am feeling empathy for creatures no free to pursue their wishes and whatever brings them joy. I am experiencing and learning all the time, letting the omniverse speak to me; and I am actively seeking out that mystical voice. I am also creating my own interpretations of those messages.
And I am in solidarity with the fighting ferns.