The other day when the sun had warmed up the surface of the Earth and everything had a sheen - almost visible waves of heat – I realized I was passing through time. I was on a journey through my past … to all of the places that I had been when this scent or that whiff of something infused my nose.
It was a walking meditation:
that first trip to Mount Shasta
hiking through chaparral in fourth grade
church camp in the ponderosa pine forest
visits to the Cascade Mountains
Lakes: Tahoe, Havasu, Wenatchee, Otter Brook, Whatcom, Sebago, Echo …
walking home from third grade
mountaintop Buddhist temples in Japan, Burma, Thailand, Nepal, and one nestled in the hills of Northern California
A few days later, it was the cool, moist morning air from which memories arose:
a mist-enshrouded prairie full of bugling elk
a river turned red with spawning salmon
an extended camping trip I took all alone in the North Cascade mountains
and then, a fully developed memory:
four-year-old me resisting the urge to peel off the puzzle-shaped bark from a tree on which it hung loosely at a child's eye-level; my mom told me that it hurt the tree to remove the bark, and – though I didn’t understand why – I checked my impulses because I didn’t want to cause harm to my tree-friend
Sensory experiences in the natural world summon similar-sense memories in our inner world. The body of human and the body of Earth are united in such a way that all experiences become accessible regardless of temporal or geographic boundaries.
The fragrance of warm sap today, ten-year-olds at outdoor school decades ago. Oh, the powerful ways in which Nature holds us: her own family.