I wrote this passage down on my first evening at Breitenbush. I had inadvertently picked up a copy of The Tibetan Book of the Dead a few days prior and, as I sat in the meadow by camp and watched the silhouette of cedar trees at dusk, I opened to this sentence. It pretty accurately set the context for the following days.
I won’t attempt to unpack any spiritual investigations right now. It would be difficult for me to articulate and likely very dull for you. I will say that my stay at Breitenbush was magical and that this magic is potently expressed in the surroundings: the quiet pools of steaming, mountain water; the quiet magnitude of Doug Firs, Hemlocks and Cedars towering in every direction; the lodge’s quiet, warm glow. I guess what I’m trying to say is, it was very quiet. Trees may not speak but man do they have spirit.
Initially I thought that I would be quiet as well and I was, relatively, but my vow of silence was promptly broken at community meal times and in the soaking pools. In general, my mind slowed, my movements slowed (Qi Gong taught me a few slightly painful lessons in stillness) but this reverence for my surroundings invited some really wonderful exchanges with like-minded campers.
There were too many to list at length…Rowan, a joyful 12-year-old, Reiki healer; Will a gentle, elderly artist investigating intuitive empathy…everyone was a blessing.
My first day there I took an epic, solo hike around the Emerald Loop Trail and attempted to capture a few moments where I felt particularly overcome with forest bliss.
However, after the hike a powerful wave of exhaustion hit me and settled in for the duration of my visit. Marta clarified, “of course you’re exhausted, you’ve been working 3 jobs for the past year at 100 percent”. I suppose that my body recognized an opportunity to chill out and wholeheartedly grabbed it. I napped every day I was there: on a couch, in the library, legs half sprawled out the back of my truck, in a meadow, ANYWHERE I could have a moment’s peace. All of my over-exertion finally caught up and this was good. In the intervals between sleep I felt a great sensation of joy and relief.
Of course, I was also very active, just in an intentional manner. I practiced yoga every day, often multiple times, tried Qi Gong and EDGU, rejuvenated daily in the hot springs, drank about 100 gallons of peppermint and rooibos tea, and read as if I had just discovered written word.
There were a few obstacles: hungry late-season mosquitos and a nasty case of sausage -finger following a wasp bite. But you know, whatever, becoming one with nature.
Overall, I found a staggering amount of peace in the past 3 days and accept it as a wonderfully-timed gift for my journey’s beginning. Now I’ve put my clothes back on both literally and metaphorically and will attempt to ride this chill wave through my next week in Bend. So far? It’s been all babies, bike rides, cool rivers and good food with family so I’d say it’s working out well.
Thanks to Marta King for the visit and deep forest/soul explorations.
With Heaps of Magnanimous Joy,