I don’t know about you, but I have so many things that tussle with and tug at me in life, I find it necessary to rest. I’m not even talking about taking a break from the demands put on me by people or the pressures of a job. I am talking about taking a time out from my own head and heart…or maybe not a time out from them, but a rest from my body to let them flow freely. When I take a time out, I find that the stillness of the moment is anything but still. Nor is it silent. Yet, it is serene. My senses take over and it is at this moment that spirit speaks to my soul through my surroundings.
I have elected today to take you on a hike with me. I am not only going to show you photographs of where we’re going, but I’m going to take you with me on an internal journey. I’m going to tell you what speaks to me as I photograph, what awakens me, what moves me… You can declare me crazy when we’re finished, and that’s ok with me as well. For your information (in case you need more ammo!), I talk to myself as well. And I’ve even been known to answer myself! When I chance upon something this ethereal, I must stop, look, listen, and breathe it all in before I can move on. This is why I often lag behind on our hikes. While I am enjoying the company of my husband and the exuberance of the dog, there is always something much deeper in progress.
The swamp is encased in ice. The sun shines through the trees and travels down the Spanish moss to the glossy surface. The occasional gurgle indicates that life still moves beneath the ice. Some sticks, leaves, and swamp weeds are trapped midway in ice between water and air. The wind tickles and moves them here and there. Between sun, water, and ice, possibility is aglow in the scenery. Had I not stopped, I would have missed the “stillness” of this moment. It was the tranquility and hope that moved my heart.
There is something utterly romantic, almost magical about Spanish moss. I love that it can grab anything and spring to life. What it plants itself to is not actually it’s host. It is an air plant that gets all it needs from the air and rain. I suppose it is more or less ornamental to that to which it adheres itself. The wind can blow it apart and the pieces will attach to something else and flourish. But while it is clingy, it grows freely and swings in the breeze. It bends, spirals, flattens, and conforms however it must to continue it’s purpose, whatever that purpose might be. Maybe it’s resilience is what intrigues me.
The marsh reeds have gently laid themselves down in a single direction. It is as if they have made a path of time with the wind from the sandy trail to the water’s edge. The milky softness of the clouds reach out to the ripples of the creek until you can’t see where one begins and the other ends. It reminds me of the ripple effect of our actions, how grace can multiply and extend in ways we’ve never imagined. I think of how one small act touches another and so on and how we never know the outcome of something as simple as a smile, hug, or a kind word.
Sometimes, I feel the sun warm my shoulders as it peeks through the trees that stretch over the creek banks. I listen to the water trickle, and it soothes me as it always had since I was a small child. I hear the leaves rustle with the hustle and bustle of busy squirrels, and I even hear the boring of woodpeckers in the distance. And even on occasion I catch a glance of a fish surfacing. Amidst all this outward action, I am usually spinning words in my head. Sometimes, I get ahead of myself and try to force what I am thinking. I try to speak for myself. I am gently nudged to wait and let the material work itself out. I know I must file it away and when it is ready it will come back. My head always questions whether it will come back. My heart assures that it’s ok if it doesn’t. If and when the time is right, it will resurface, just as the sun bounces from treetops to water’s surface and back again.
The tide controls the water, lapping it against the shore and drawing it’s design in the sand. Time moves me as well and etches it’s design through my soul, across my skin, and displays itself in my life and all that I touch.
Life throughout the marsh and creek await uncertainty, never knowing exactly where or how brightly the sun will shine. The ice depends on the sun to thaw, and the thaw will in turn rise the water levels of the swamp and creek. All that live within and around it will be touched.
This photograph comes courtesy of Dirt Man taking a time out. I think he has perfectly captured hope among what appears to be a dead and frozen swamp. I see life in the green foliage in the foreground and possibility as the sun shines through the darkened region of the swamp land. It is like being in a desolate place emotionally and knowing that grace exists, and having the courage to look up at the sky and reach out your hand. He might not always be able to write out the words of my head and heart, but he knows just how to capture it with a photograph.