This morning, my eyes still bleary with a long November night, I saw through the window a large rock where I hadn’t remembered one on the edge of the meadow down the hill where the creek bed hollows and tumbles into the ravine. Over the months of summer, the bedrock hid under grasses that lounged in long, thick waves, but the drying had flattened them and the bedrock emerged where I hadn’t seen it before. But wait. This was no ordinary rock. I sensed a creature in its shape. The binoculars assisted as I focused on a resting deer, a large doe who seemed to be in sync with everything around her as she curled on the lifeless grasses that padded her bed. She stayed there, unmoving, for a long time.
The doe planted herself in full view of me at just the time I had risen from a nearly 12-hour sleep after days and days of feeling less than healthy and vulnerable to the discouragement of not wanting to eat, of not having the energy to do more than take care of the dogs, of not wanting to explain any of my feelings to anyone but wishing I wasn’t feeling so completely alone. How many others are feeling the weight of their journeys these days, unimaginable losses across the globe? What deeper kinship can there be than suffering? What a terrible thought.
“See with every turning day, how each season…weathers you to a testing in the tried and true…,” David Whyte writes. And I wonder, what is “the tried and true?” Is it waking up in the morning and finding a deer on the rise by the meadow? Is it promising the dogs I’m going to be okay? Is it looking at the gray sky and wondering what winter will require of me? Already there is darkness on the horizon.
I have lost my humor. Lost my collegial spirit, my artist’s edge, my wild heart. I have lost my appetite and my ability to grasp the ends that come so fast and hard and heavy that it all feels like a blur of toxic smoke that eradicates beauty as a spoil of war. I have lost my desire to explain what that means.
Is deficiency my path these days? Is this the way of the pilgrim? the soothsayer? the mendicant? What chorus rises from the piles of leaves, from the barer branches? What whispers the deer? With everything fading, sinking, waiting for stillness and decomposition, what am I to understand of this journey into the womb of wanting to be renewed and knowing spring is months away?
I wrote this piece as a result of the Day Six writing prompt in Ann Randolph’s current Unmute Yourself writing sessions. As a participant in Unmute Yourself since 2021, I can highly recommend Ann’s program, her top notch writing instruction, and the strength of the writing community she shepherds. A new session begins on January 8, 2024, and I’ll be there for it.