Camping in the woods for 4 days in pouring rain with temperatures ranging from 35-54 degrees Fahrenheit has been a process of deep focus and mindfulness. Hiking all day at 6400 feet above sea level, 5000 feet above what we were used to, challenged me to focus when we descended back to our campsite to prepare dinner. I was exhausted, as would be the case in trying to manage elevation fatigue, rain and a child still wanting to play. I gave Robbie the task to fill the water gallon jugs, collected a few dinner things and promptly locked my keys in the car.I was at a walk-in campsite and as luck would have it, a woman came to her car. We started chatting and I told her I locked my keys in the car. Before I knew it, I got everything I needed: 2 rangers to unlock my car quickly and a wonderful new friend who sat chatting with me under my tarp as I got things ready for dinner.
The fire was slow going as would be expected with damp tinder. I sat and breathed for a bit. Looked at my matches, looked at my Biolite, looked at my green beans and fixings for tacos for Robbie. What a day. Time to pause.
I gave thanks for the fire. For millienia, fire has been worshipped and offered as the means for spiritual connection. For me, it was a deep practice here in the woods, it was my meditation. We could have had dinner cold, and just gone into our sleeping bags and gone to sleep. Not unlike “skipping meditation” because I was too tired or didn’t have the right place to do it. But I could not help but feel as if each fire was a connection behind me, in the moment, and into the future. A connection that spanned generations, lineage and future lineages. No matter what happens in society, in nature and in the world, we will always need to breathe, to drink water, to eat, to have shelter AND to have fire. The fire was calling for my attention, a means and path to focus and give thanks.
My new friend Andrea came and sat with me as I breathed and watched the fire. She told me about her life and the very difficult transitions she was undergoing. We connected as I sat and focused at the fire, breathing in the life of the flame and breathing it out to her and all beings. Inside I whispered “may this warm you, may this heal you, may this heal all beings…thank you thank you thank you.”
Robbie was absorbed in his own meditation fire. He talked to the fire, humming and singing to it, watching the fire as it flickered around the logs. It was pitch darkness but for the flame, and the old growth forest surrounding us casting shadows in the gloom.
Andrea wondered about my traveling alone across the country with my son. I said, “I did not do it alone you know. This evening was pure evidence of that.” She looked at me quizzically and I told her that I met so many people along the way, sharing dinners, connection with other mothers, advice and input. Truly there was very little time that I was ever alone. Robbie and I were very blessed in this way and she was evidence of this.
We chatted for a bit longer. Dinner was getting cold but the fire was still glowing. We watched the transitions together, the building up of fire and its eventual decline to embers. As the last sparks popped into the night sky, we hugged and went our separate ways, glad for the chance for the special moment, the time of meditation with the roaring light.
All that we have before us, no matter where we are can be our deepest meditation. It takes nothing special, no technique. Only an interest on your part and a giving to it with all you have.
Let me know what your meditation is today, I would love to hear about it.