This is a post in pics. Last night, before attending a high school drama production my stepson was part of, I went for a solo saunter in the woods. By the end of the evening, I was nourished, fed, and inspired by a multitude of influences: the woods that surrounded me, the river that flowed beside the trail,
the sky in sprawl above in a budding spring blue,
In our local meditation center, we have a large calligraphy done by Thay (Thich Nhat Hanh) that reminds us to: Go as a river, which is a common teaching in our tradition. These few simple words have a depth of wisdom instilled within them, and can be translated in a few different ways. To me, Go as a river speaks to two main key components of our practice tradition: impermanence and brotherhood/sisterhood.
In regards to impermanence, Go as a river speaks to the ever-changing flow of life. Suffering, in large part, develops when we’re fighting against what is unfolding in the present moment, as though we’re trying to walk upstream amid a fast-moving river. To Go as a river means to go with the flow of life, to learn how to accept its non-permanent state and not get stuck in our own preferences and thoughts about how things should be. Despite our best laid plans and ideas, life can oftentimes twist and turn in unexpected ways. To Go as a river means to cultivate resiliency, inclusiveness, solidity, and ease, with the deepening understanding that things/people/situations are of the nature to change.
In regards to brotherhood & sisterhood, Go as a river means to recognize the importance and cultivation of community and interconnection. On a more intimate level, it means: to root ourselves in a loving, supportive, healthy sangha. On a larger level, it means: to see all the ways in which we depend on one another as a global family. Brotherhood and sisterhood are about discovering ways to actively connect and engage with our friends, family, local community, and the world in such a way that compassion and understanding are generated. Continue reading
A pic I took of an old trail sign – and then added some words to with Pic Monkey :)
I’ve been starting to get a little restless, from having had shoulder surgery almost 3 weeks ago and still being in a sling and relatively one-handed. So today I ventured out on my own for a walk in the woods. Spending time with trees is good medicine.
There’s a spot in the Blue Mountain Recreation Area not far from my house that I especially like to go. It has good parking and the wooded walking trail goes right by the Bitterroot River, which is a great bonus. It was a sunny, warm day today and only a small handful of people were on the trail, which was also an added bonus. I pulled up into a sliver of shade and then set out on foot with my ipod and camera in tow.
The sun rippled down through long strands of muted green grasses as boughs of pines and aspens swayed in the summer wind. Large birds of prey were soaring with widely spread wings above the river and small song birds were singing long intertwining arias amongst the trees.
Red Rocks, Montana
Today I ventured out for a solo adventure and ended up at Red Rocks, up the Johnsrud Park Road off of highway 200. Along the way I checked out day use spots along the Blackfoot River, meandered around different rocky beaches, and took my time checking out new pockets of beauty.
Clark Fork River Saturday Market, Missoula, MT
Originally from the suburbs of Philadelphia I moved to western Montana in 1998 after my first year of college, which I attended right out of high school. While the east coast will always be my native homeland and have special meaning, as the place where I was born and raised, Montana’s where my heart is. Our humble university town of Missoula is a liberal oasis in our expansive Big Sky state. Summer in Missoula involves floating the rivers, hiking, biking, camping, berry picking, festivals, music, local foods, gardening, and our 3 weekly Saturday outdoor markets for produce, food, and arts & crafts. I love it here in Missoula and I am grateful for the opportunity to live here and call this home :)
Here’s a visual display of some of what I love about this area:
In an attempt to get a little more movement into my days I’ve recently started taking walks. And to add a mindfulness practice element to these walks I’ve taken to using them as an opportunity to get in touch with gratitude. I’ve found that infusing gratitude into my walks also helps me to feel more inspired to get out and do it. It feels less exercise and chore like when I’m intentionally looking around to connect and appreciate my surroundings.
Yesterday I walked to the river, which runs through town. One of the bike paths is just two blocks away and goes all the way to the river, about a 30-40 minute walk from where I live. So I hopped on the bike path and away I went, iPod in tow.
Suspension bridge over the Lochsa River, Idaho
My husband and I have an annual tradition of spending Christmas Day at one of our favorite places, Jerry Johnson Hot Springs in Idaho. It’s about an hour and a half drive west from Missoula, Montana. Traveling from town you know you’ve reached the trailhead when you see the beautiful suspension bridge stretching over the Lochsa River (shown above). There’s a nice large parking area across highway 12 from the bridge.
Warm Springs Creek, next to the trail leading to the springs
The skies above were clear blue and filled with winter sun streaming down through the evergreen forest. Due to its popularity the 1 1/2 mile trail to the springs is always well worn no matter the time of year. The springs are natural and the hike is on a pretty easy trail. Sometimes it can be quite icy so during the winter months having yak tracks for your shoes is totally money well spent. We visit the springs often throughout the year – for me it’s always a good day when I trek to the pools. There is great medicine in getting out in the woods.