My son was up here for a visit last week. We explored this neighborhood a bit together and found our way up to the Town Cow Pasture Trails a few blocks from my house. This three mile trail loop is pure magic. Slate-bottomed streams, huge old maples, lichen-covered spruce, old orchard remnants, tumbled stone walls, fields of wildflowers, cool birch woods — and a spring well. This amazing pool of burbling spring water is in the middle of the woods on a steep slope, a few yards off the path. It is rounded about with stacked slate. Its outflow tumbles down to a chattering brook. The water is cold even in August.
For some reason, finding that magical Well in the Wood reminded me of my one and only attempt at meditative pathworking. The meditation failed utterly. I’ve just no talent for spending much time analyzing the interior of my skull. There’s always something that needs doing. But even when I manage to calm the mom-instincts, invariably something far more interesting happens along. I can be distracted by clouds, you see.
I still try meditation now and again, but this is the only guided meditation I’ve ever written. It may not work as intended, but it is a rather lovely story. So I thought I might share it.
Maybe you can get it to work properly.
you are alone in an autumn meadow nature aflame as it burns its last summer glory sunflowers nodding gracefully goldenrod a mist of sunlight russet grasses dotted with violet stars vibrant raspberry joe pye weed standing sentinel in erstwhile marshy ground you are clad simply, carrying little you are a seeker and go forth humbly to find you need naught but the lost you see the eaves of a forest crouching darkly on the meadow’s far edge you know you must enter so you stride purposefully into the shades it is a pathless wood your boots trod upon years uncounted decay mixed with sleeping new life you are surrounded by lichen-laden conifers needles black in the gloom here and there white-boled birch stately grey beech ragged oaks majestic maple all divested of leaves as though winter has claimed this wood still, the barren trees admit light showers of muted grey gleaming fall through the evergreen murk for this you are grateful you think it bodes rain you become aware of a stillness in the meadow behind you a riot of rustling and birdsong before you solitude and silence you feel that it has not always been thus that the wood once pulsed with life but it is bound to your quest heavy with expectancy watching you to see if you shall succeed so deeper into the darkness you stride
the way becomes difficult and all ways are the same trackless and forbidding the wood will not reveal the way you scramble through pine and spruce boughs scratched and aching and parched and you wonder when the rain will fall to give you some relief with this idea of water in the mind distant sound comes to your ears a stream chuckling to itself a rush of water over a fall you have new purpose and you come to the edge in no time you stand on grey shale under the open sky the water falls away at your feet tumbling in prismatic haze lit by the setting sun far below, a fathomless pool receives the falls swallowing the rush and spray with barely a ripple on its surface you are drawn to the pool your urge is to dive from the cliff to the unseen depths you must fight the desire you may find what you seek or you may be dashed against hidden rock you wait and watch while the sun falls into the forest and a thin moon comes riding from the clouds turning the falls to silver, the pool to a dark mirror
you begin an arduous climb as much stumbling as intention arriving at the base, bloodied and winded you walk a ways from the falls marveling at the still pool opaque, hard, glassy in the twilight you think it may have no limit an infinite well of darkness dipping your hands in its waters you find them cool but not cold you are startled by the eerie cry of the nightjar and you heed its clarion call shedding your few supplies and travel-stained clothes for a moment you watch the maiden moon dancing on the surface then you wade in the banks drop away suddenly and your naked body is submerged in cool waters like silk the pool is not as deep as you imagined and you wonder at its stillness as though all energy even yours is sapped in these waters you long to sleep forever in this embrace you remind yourself of your goal
something in the depths glitters in a glancing ray of starlight you dive, chasing the glimmer it is hard to see and you must surface so soon yet you try again and now clouds veil the light you lose your way you only just make it back to the surface for air so a third time you dive fixing the place of glimmering in your mind and you reach the bottom your hand reaching to the muddy bed finds solidity, cold and sharp you do not have time to wonder you close your hand around it and kick for the starlight it feels an endless trip to the surface and you pray for endurance and strength finally, you break free swim for the stream bank only when you have left the pool do you look at what you have found nearly the size of your hand it is crystalline smoky and purple and pointed pulsing with a faint light in its heart you bathe it in the pool the better to see and it begins to glow warming at your touch you close your eyes in joyous relief you have found what you seek the lost you hold your prize to your naked chest open your eyes and look into the depths of another soul
©Elizabeth Anker 2021