Meeting Shiva in the Forest

Tree Enlightenment
Tree Enlightenment

I am walking down the lane from my house, enjoying the freedom of movement. This is particularly precious to me, as I have been ill for a while and not able to walk far. It is very cold and icy snow presses the heavily laden branches towards the ground. Snow seems to suck sound out of the air; everything is still and stiff, as if waiting to be activated and let loose.

My breath is steamy and I feel the fine hairs close to my mouth and nostrils spiky, brittle, frozen and subliminally uncomfortable. Brinkley the dog is padding alongside me; part dog and part deer, he trots with an envious spring in his step. How wonderful it is to have a companion that appreciates friendship, and nature, so unconditionally! We pass through some curvy bends on the lane, and I can tell we are approaching our goal.

I stop walking and move to a spot at the edge of the road. I look at one of my favorite places in the woods, a sacred spot at the meeting of two brooks that we call The Confluence. The larger watercourse, frozen into a mad frenzy of icy organ pipes, rumbles hollowly below the surface as if a troll has taken up residence for the winter. The ice forms a succession of white-silver steps: in the spring it transforms itself into a series of small waterfalls. One small area of water thrashes and boils, still unfrozen because of its violent movement, and I remember how we love to swim there during the warmer months.

It is a very sacred space and power lingers here, even in the throes of deepest winter. As I slow down after walking, and my breathing slows, the atmosphere of the hallowed place expands and fills my senses. My body is embraced in warmth and tingles, and my Crown opens. I see a golden dome appear in the fork of the ‘Y’ made by the joining of the two streams, which to my subliminal sight announces the presence of the God. Under the dome I see a naked, blue figure, sitting cross-legged in deep meditation. He is Shiva, at One with the forested landscape, which is the raiment of his consort Parvarti, the Earth Goddess.

I was deeply blessed earlier in my life to meet Shiva and Parvarti, in the flesh, high in the Himalayan Mountains. There I spent some months in one of their temples as a devotee, being taught various types of meditation and spiritual practices. Shiva and Parvarti have been constant traveling companions throughout my life, sharing space alongside Buddha, Wakantanka, Khephera, Isis, Brigid and Ogma. What an extraordinary company!

I start to chant Om Namaha Shivai and feel the forest space vibrate around me. God is everywhere, Goddess is everywhere. My heart opens and I am overcome with gratitude for my life. I thank everything that led up to this point in time, and I enter the present moment. I am flooded with ecstasy and suddenly all there is, and all that has ever been, is that clearing in the forest, the Confluence, the presence of the Sacred, and Brinkley, who has retreated a few yards as if to give me space. And I am at the center.

I realize that I am where I need to be, doing what I need to be doing. I don’t need to ask for anything, or to pray, because I simply am. I am what I am, and the world is simply what it is, and all is well. I have become the tiniest worm, the God and Goddess, the ledge and the water flowing in the valley. I am the knee-deep snow lying on the ground and the shade produced by the hemlocks standing like frozen green fountains around me.

I try to vocalize what I am feeling and fail miserably. No matter. The feelings overwhelm me and I start to sob. There is no pain in my crying: my heart is so full it spills over and fills the world. Washing, cleansing, each tear a prayer of joy. Once upon a time I was scared to cry because it was so painful. My eyes would fill with toxic liquid: it felt hot and acidic and burned terribly. Adding to the extreme discomfort, my face always seemed to want to explode.

Not any more: my tears are cool and refreshing now and wash away any lurking, residual pain. Refreshing. Renewing. Soothing and releasing. I thank my destiny for the life I have been given, and the choices I have made. There are no regrets, for full acceptance of the present moment is the one and only key to eternal life.

I’m not sure how long this state of grace lasted by watch-time. Five minutes? Ten minutes? Finally, as always, the spell is broken, eternity recedes and time starts to flow again. I come to myself and wipe my eyes. I compose myself, and thank the Sacred for its visitation. I say farewell to the Confluence and then Brinkley approaches, reassured that I have ‘returned’. I pat him and tell him he is a wonderful friend. He seems to understand. We turn and start to walk back up the hill together.