The Grace of Mutual Belonging

As a child living in Frostburg, I spent lots of time at New Germany State Park, but there was one particular picnic that is so imbedded in my memory that I can almost reach out and touch it at any time, feel it like a smooth pebble in the pocket of my favorite jeans. I lost myself that day in an instant of cosmic kinship. I was given a vision of something beyond the trap of dualism and was no longer separate and apart. I had dissolved into the wild joy of being a part of something greater than myself.

 Mom and Dad wanted us to find a new spot that day, a place where no one else had been before, so we didn’t stay on the paths or trails. We followed a small brook that fed into the lake until we came to an opening in the trees were the grass seemed as smooth and inviting as moss-green velvet. Mom’s red-and-white checkered table cloth made the perfect center piece. 

My brother Bill and I had been climbing trees when I suddenly became mesmerized by the bark of a locust tree. I kept touching it, examining the unusual patterns it created but when I finally looked up, everything around me had changed. I could still see my brother and sisters, Mom and Dad, but they were surrounded by a landscape that was now glowing, as though the light was radiating from inside each blade of grass, within each leaf and flower, up from the small stream’s shimmering treasures. I breathed in the fragrance as though the entire scene entered my lungs with each in-breath, and I clung to the branch in wonder. Apparently I had entered into some portal of peak awareness outside of time. I still feel energized just thinking about the gift I received from the Universe that day. 

All I have to do is close my eyes and the brilliant light show returns and again, I remember so vividly the love I felt for my family that day. I wasn’t a bit shy, later that day, about sharing the crayfish I found in the stream or showing my mom the unusual texture of the bark on that one tree Bill and I had climbed. But I said nothing about the “Vision”, nothing about the special way they had all been framed in brilliance and color and warmth. I never did tell them how, for an instant outside of time, the forest acoustics, its splashing-brook laughter and its wildlife rhythms, had frozen in place along with the vapors of pine and campfire. I was so young and wouldn’t have been able to explain it even if I had tried. I should have shouted at the top of my lungs that day that I knew the love my parents shared. I understood it. Perhaps that small little corner of the world was also in love with us and wanted a small child to be in on her mysterious playfulness.

Jody Walker