Reflections on the Extraordinary in Ordinary Life
On certain autumn mornings, in the changing of the seasons, tiny water droplets rise from the river in a vapor mist of fog.
From the viewpoint of my second-floor, I saw the fog roll in like earthbound clouds. With my camera, I walked to the river edge where mist swirled in currents of the air. Droplets clinging to branches of river brush glistened in the morning light. It felt otherworldly. The swirling fog whispered as it disappeared, “Your life is what you own.”
I got the message. If I valued possessions, they and my life would be like the passing fog which disappears into wisps of air.
Winter weather followed the warm autumn. Each day the needle of the thermometer outside my window dropped lower. Then snowflakes fell from the cold grey skies into soft piles of frozen white fluff. On a walk alongside the river, I bent down to observe the icy crystals. And I heard them say, in consciousness, “Your life is who you know.” The sun was warming the earth, and the snow melted silently.
The point was clear. Living to please or impress other people, or to gain their favor, or placing importance on the status of those I know, has no more substance than the snow that so easily melts away.
As the days shortened, the earth cooled in the night until ponds fed by the river yielded to floating sheets of ice. In a reflective mood, I walked around a pond and was drawn to look into the water, first to the leaves at the bottom. Then my vision shifted to see into the water molecules. There was no surface reflection, but it seemed I could see myself looking back from that inner space. And again I heard in consciousness, “Your life is what you think.”
This message took a little longer to sink in. I had identified with my thoughts and intellect for so long and at one time valued knowledge above all else. As my resistance relaxed, inner vision showed me leaves showering from the trees. I gave assent to the deeper meaning, “My passing thoughts are like fallen leaves. They are not who I am.”
Further along the trail, I looked more deeply into the water. A tree branch under the water, bleached by the sun, riveted my attention. Between the surface of the water and the branch at the bottom, I could see intuitively into the structure of the water molecules, into the atoms. The light of the sun sparkled on the surface, and I felt the inner sun of the atoms beaming out from within. And a voice spoke to me, “Your life is what you will.”
As I considered this, to feel whether it was so, the atoms opened to my observing gaze and I travelled in consciousness to the most elementary particles, alive in a sea of creation.
There I met my eternal being. And from the light it said, “Do not give your attention to the perishing. Follow your heart, it knows what is true. It leads you to the labyrinth. The Universe is you.”
Illumination by the Truth of Oneself
A great pleasure in life is to be illuminated by the truth of oneself. The golden thread that guides to the insights that sustain and awaken us is well disguised by its appearance in ordinary snowflakes, winter sunlight, and water reflections.
Without seeing the golden thread, humans get lost and torn around by the mental rollercoaster within the mind. The only escape from the constant ups and downs is the door that leads into the present moment.
Life experienced in the fullness of a moment is like the philosopher's stone that opens the human mind to awareness.
Whenever I lose the presence of the moment my legs get restless and urge me to walk. Since childhood I have longed for nature's transforming magic. When walking through the cathedral of high treetops, my busy mind calms as each footprint into the soft earthy ground absorbs away all jitter. As my partner and I are highly sensitive, we have chosen to live in small villages where forest lanes, meadow hilltops and mummering waters are reached in minutes.
The Golden Thread in Nature
When the first lines of the Reflections poem were revealed on my walks, we lived in the old village of Füssen in Bavaria, a few hundred paces from the emerald river Lech. After six months, we were drawn to northern Germany near the Baltic Sea.
Soon after we arrived, on an early spring morning, my restless legs got me up and out of the apartment. With an ordinary feeling I walked into nature's embrace and came to the usual fork in the trail. Normally I bore right as the terrain gave my legs a greater challange. Something from within pointed me left. The small lane hadn't much appeal as the thick growth would not allow much daylight to come through. Against my personal attraction to it, I carried on.
The trail passed an oddly mysterious pond on the right, and then dropped through a stand of old oak trees. In the moment that I saw an old wooden gate ahead set in the midst of spring growth and overhung by the branches of an apple tree, the spirit of an explorer came over me. With childlike curiosity I opened the gate. The rusty hinges squeaked as it gave passage. My eyes touched the hidden terrain and it felt like entering a dream. The bright green grass of the meadow was being grazed by white wooly sheep. My gaze followed them into a large labyrinth outlined by stones set into the soft earth.
Meditatively I viewed the classical Cretan seven circuit design, a labyrinth made by the local community on land donated by the farmer. The intensity of its geometric art pulled me into the unicursal curving lane. With each bend I surrendered to the truth and beauty in nature and all my resistance evaporated. By the time I arrived at the center, I had lost the shores of an ordinary mind. Being in a timeless state I recognized the extraordinary within. Bathing in emanating presence, I saw that true creative work is woven by love.
Reflections on the Extraordinary in Ordinary Life
From water rose the fog one day and formed into a cloud,
then light broke through the vapor mist and lifted off the shroud.
As mist went swirling in the light, and by the air was blown
I heard it say in haunting tones, “Your life is what you own.”
The fog upon the river bank gave way to winter snow
and whispered softly in my ear, "Your life is who you know."
Another day the winter sun turned ice into a pond,
and formed into a perfect mirror for gazing the beyond.
The image in the glassy pool was a leaf upon a tree
and then between the worlds appeared an image that was me.
The surface was reflective, the water pure to drink,
it spoke to me so clearly, "Your life is what you think."
My eyes went in the water, to know more deeply still
and there I heard the message, "Your life is what you will."
And then the entrance opened to the inner outer space
and revealed the one I am, we met there face-to-face.
Once again the vision spoke. “Your heart will know what’s true.”
“Now walk into the labyrinth. The Universe is you.”
Photography, poetry and show creation
by Kati and Gary R. Smith
"Mystic Healer” track
on “Healing Music” album
by Bill Webb