Saturday, January 2, 2016

Altar in the Snow

I have a habit when walking out in nature of picking up objects and examining them. Sometimes they end up in a pocket and come home with me, but most of the time I construct a tiny altar for the wind to toss at will or for another human or wild creature to happen upon. This one was in the woods of central Wisconsin around Christmas, 2002. I had my camera along hoping to photograph deer or other wildlife on a hike. When the deer were scarce I found myself gathering pine cones and marveling at the variations on their design. So many conifers, so many cones. When I came across this stone it seemed an appropriate spot to arrange them along with a stick I had collected along the way. I just put up my new calendar in this room, and there is a paragraph suggesting a winter meditative walk outdoors this January. Remembering a winter walk from years ago, I hunted down this photo. Quite often when I contemplate incorporating a spiritual or thoughtful activity into my day, I discover that there is an echo of familiarity. Deja vu. I have been here before, or somewhere very like this. I love that our brains are busy recording and tucking away all kinds of information even when we are consciously going about doing other things. Then something as seemingly trivial as a smell or a bit of music will call forth a long secreted away memory. I want to find a couple of hours this January to go for a walk outside. Maybe build a tiny altar and come home with other treasures in my pockets. Maybe take my camera. Maybe not. I'll have my senses and my brain along, sometimes what they capture and retain is much more sublime.

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