Drew HurleyFlowing. Smoothly flowing, a shimmering brook trickles through timeless trees with the ease of eternity. Lapping its tiny waves upon the base of a giant oakís protruding finger of fibrous root, this watery cascade parades past the grasslands and through the rolling woods. Natureís poetry. A big looping bend in a small Florida stream. A spot that forever haunts my soul.
I come here often. It is my private spot. There is a big universe out there, but I donít think that anyone else has ever been here. Oh, certainly, they could have. But I doubt it. I mean, Iíve never seen any indication of human presence -- except my own -- and besides, there is nothing unique or spectacular about this spot. It is just an obscure location along a small spring which flows into the Santa Fe River.
I am not even really sure why I like this spot so much. I think it is partly because of the way the stream bends around that big old oak tree, and the way the Oak towers over the rippled ribbon of water with such awesome majesty and grace, and how the other trees encircle and yet leave open the area immediately around that oak -- as if showing respect for an old master. The effect of these surroundings is impressive -- at least to me. I am haunted by the simplicity, and complexity, of this flowing cathedral with its oak-leaf rafters.
There is something about this shaded nook that haunts my consciousness and impels me to share its communion. And commune I do. For I feel so totally comfortable here. This is the place I go to think, to be with myself and to contemplate the universe.
I sit with my back against that old oak tree and relax. The spring rushing past my side calms and stills my soul. Birds serenade me with their sweet serendipity of music. And I think.
A lucky man? Yes. Most certainly. Yet there are many moments of doubt and anguish. At times when I am most distraught, I sometimes take off my clothes and lay in the stream beneath that big oak tree. (I think that psychologists would tell me that this is a not-so-latent sex wish, but it seems to me to be so much more than that....)
I guess, like most men (and women), I have a lot of responsibilities. When they pile up and start to weigh me down, I hike up to my little spot. It is such a tremendous comfort to relax here completely surrounded by nature. I wearily drag my tormented being to this oasis like a contemporary Sisyphus forever shouldering the impossible and unending burdens of mankind up some endless mountain. But my fate is not so cruel as poor frustrated Tantalus. My smooth flowing stream melts the torments hidden in my soul and washes them down-stream and out to sea. For, in this spot, I am constantly renewed by the subtle forces of wood, water, soil, and air. Yet at the same time I am reminded of the relentless power of nature, and of the terrible might and awesome strength of our Mother Earth.
So I sit next to my oak tree and think of all the petty tribulations of man, and all of our ignorant prejudices, phobias and fears, and the manifest stupidity of wars, poverty, and crime. It depresses me. It frustrates me. It makes me angry. But as I sit next to this oak tree, all of this is washed away and the serenity of ages long past envelopes me with calm.
I will die. All men must. Yet there is a timelessness about this place. It will endure. What does it matter that men fear and hate one another? They too will die, and, if we are lucky, their hatreds will die with them. Yet, my tree will grow, and my spring will continue to flow.
When I return home, I do so happily -- content to know that trees grows and that the water flows on. And each time I visit this precious spot, I am more easily convinced that what matters most in life is the nurturing care of growth and continuity. For me, this is natureís priceless gift of happiness.
Happiness cannot be earned or accrued, it can only be given. And joy comes to the giver when it is well received. This is the essence of what I have learned in my communion with this tiny stream and giant oak tree. But the effect of this happiness upon me has been far more important, and profound. My soul has grown deep like the water, and I have developed a love for all of the earth.
Tuesday, 04-May-2010 14:47:42 EDT